The dangers of backyard fire pits - news and op/ed


Postby Wilberforce » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:20 pm



Trying to introduce the topic of toxic fire pits to someone for the first time?

This photo works well.

It shows the 700′ boundary — the first-in-the-nation fire pits regulation as set by the South Coast AQMD. You don’t want to live inside the red toxic boundary, but as you see, many people do.

See all those residences? Count about 6 people per, as they’re all duplexes or triplexes, that’s a lot of people at risk.

The red circle on the right is centered on 18 fire pits. Notice the Junior Lifeguards Headquarters and the playground close by — no one argues: it’s not good to expose children to wood smoke. The circle on the left is centered on 15 fire pits.

So all those residents, do you think they knew when they moved here? Of course, many of these nearby residents don’t know now, unless they dispute the scientific evidence, as is so popular with Orange County Republicans these days. But as long-term followers of this site know, their health is being adversely affected every night.

This photo has proven to be the most popular of my Legislative handouts. One staffer told me she preferred it because it conveyed so much information. Another staffer said she like to see exactly what everyone’s talking about.

When you take a closer look you can see — there’s no place to spread the fire pits out such that they won’t poison some unsuspecting residents and visitors. The beach is just too shallow – at its deepest, it’s only 400′ from residences to shoreline. That’s too toxic, especially now that we know the harmful emissions per minute from one pit equal the second-hand smoke of 800 cigarettes. The only way save the pits without poisoning more people is to use cleaner fuels. And imagine if you tried to spread wood-burning pits out — news of such a plan would fill the Council Chambers with angry residents. That’s why City Manager Dave Kiff told me he won’t do it, “Moving the pits means poisoning more people.”

The same is true in Corona del Mar. Only the number of fire pits is different.
Click for PDF

Too many, too close and nowhere to spread them out

If you spread the fire pits out along the beach at Big Corona then you poison every beachgoer, plus more nearby residents. Fortunately, the beach is too shallow to try.

That leaves only one workable alternative: leave all the fire pits as charcoal-only.

Maybe someday there will be even cleaner natural gas alternatives, but until then, the only option to minimize the toxic impact is to use charcoal.

AB 1102 doesn’t protect beachgoers or residents. The next City Council could reneg on charcoal and spread wood-burning fire pits up and down the beach. It’s a public health scenario no one will be happy with.

• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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