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stoves and fireplaces increase your risk of heart attack

PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:28 pm
by Wilberforce
Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces increase your risk of heart attack, Canadian study

March 2, 2017 By Jayson MacLean

A new study from McGill University finds that for elderly people living in Canada’s small cities and towns, the risk of acute myocardial infarction is increased by 19 per cent by wood-burning stoves.

Smog warnings are seemingly a fact of life in big cities like Montreal, especially on cold winter days when more residents are burning wood in fireplaces and stoves. Environment Canada issued smog warnings in early January and mid-February of this year for Montreal and areas north and south of the city, citing poor air quality in large part due to fine particulate matter from wood stoves.

Montreal is taking steps to clean up the problem, however, adopting a plan for stricter air-pollution regulations, including a requirement that residents register their wood-burning fireplaces and stoves and then, by October 1, 2018, to have them replaced with stoves meeting stricter emissions standards.

But air quality problems due to wood burning are an issue in smaller cities and towns, too. New research led by Scott Weichenthal of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McGill looked at the link between short-term changes in ambient fine particulate matter within three small cities in BC, Prince George, Kamloops and Courtenay/Comox and the rate of hospital admissions for heart attack among elderly residents.

While previous research has shown wood and biomass burning to be associated with increased inflammation, increased arterial stiffness and decreased heart rate variability, the new research draws a line specifically between wood burning and heart attack. The researchers found that during cold months when wood stoves and fireplaces are most in use, the risk of heart attack among residents aged 65 and higher increased by 19 per cent.

“We noticed that the association was stronger when more of the air pollution came from wood burning,” says Weichenthal in a press release. “This suggests that the source of pollution matters and that all particulate air pollution is perhaps not equally harmful when it comes to cardiovascular disease.”

Weichenthal hopes that in the interest of public health, municipalities small and large across the country take heed of the message and adopt tougher regulations for wood burning.

Across Canada, various municipalities are already taking steps in that direction. In Halifax, a citizen-submitted petition has recently sparked city council to look into new rules for wood burning stoves and fireplaces. In the city of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, government officials have recently set emission standards for wood smoke, requiring all home wood stoves to be up to snuff. And in central Canada, the province of Ontario earmarked $400 million in its budget last year for a program to replace old wood stoves with more high efficiency stoves.

But leaving the regulating up to regional municipalities may not be the best approach. As reported by the Globe and Mail, the United States requires that the manufacture and sale of all wood-burning fireplaces and stoves be governed by standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, while in Canada, no such nationwide requirements are in place. Here, the Canadian Safety Association (CSA) only sets voluntary guidelines, giving homeowners the option to purchase less efficient (and cheaper) stoves if they so choose and ultimately putting the burden on municipalities to set their own regulations.

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Re: stoves and fireplaces increase your risk of heart attack

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:03 pm
by Wilberforce
Wood Stoves May Spark Heart Trouble

Posted March 6, 2017

FRIDAY, March 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- It's still winter, and many people are firing up their wood stoves.

But a new Canadian study suggests that pollution from wood-burning stoves may raise the risk of heart attack among older people living nearby.

"This suggests that the source of pollution matters and that all particulate air pollution is perhaps not equally harmful when it comes to cardiovascular disease," said study author Scott Weichenthal, a professor at McGill University in Montreal.

His team analyzed data from three small cities -- Prince George, Kamloops and Courtenay/Comox -- in British Columbia.

The study couldn't prove cause and effect, but did find that higher levels of fine particulate air pollution from wood stoves may be tied to increased hospitalizations for heart attack.

For example, during cold months, when pollution from wood stoves is highest, there was a 19 percent increase in the risk of heart attack among people 65 and older, the researchers found.

"We noticed that the association was stronger when more of the air pollution came from wood burning," Weichenthal said in a university news release.

Two experts in lung health said the findings are in keeping with studies done elsewhere.

"Exposure to fumes from biomass combustion, such as those generated by wood-burning indoor stoves, has long been recognized by the medical community as a significant health risk, especially in rural areas of the developing world," said Dr. Irene Galperin. She directs the Pleural Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

There's an especially strong connection between wood-burning stoves and an increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major killer, Galperin added.

"Wood-burning releases small particles into the atmosphere which, when inhaled, can cause direct injury to the lining of the respiratory tract, ultimately leading to inflammation," she explained. "It is likely that this inflammatory process is not limited to the lungs. When inflammation involves the coronary arteries that feed the heart, it may lead to heart attack."

Galperin believes more must be done to educate people about the dangers, especially in communities where wood stoves are popular.

Dr. Alan Mensch is chief of pulmonary medicine at Northwell Health's Plainview Hospital, in Plainview, NY. He agreed with Galperin that the study has an important message.

"The take-away," he said, "is that what we take into our bodies -- either by ingesting or inhaling -- has the potential to have profound effects on our health. Other studies should be done to replicate and confirm these results."

The study was published this week in the journal Epidemiology.

-- Robert Preidt

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