Wood smoke partly blamed for toxic air pollution

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Wood smoke partly blamed for toxic air pollution

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:21 pm

3/25/2011 7:50:00 AM
Wood smoke partly blamed for toxic air pollution

Socializing around a fire in a fireplace can be harmful to air quality if it produces too much toxic pollutants, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency advises in a new report. (Jim Bryant/The Dispatch)

Air quality officials say everyone in Pierce County with a wood-burning fireplace or stove in their homes can help minimize air pollution that has reached harmful levels in some locations.

A report released March 3 by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency highlights the harmful pollutants associated with wood smoke, particularly in Tacoma's residential areas.

The agency and the University of Washington, through a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), measured concentrations of toxic air pollutants in Tacoma and Seattle and identified the chief contributors. Exhaust from diesel engines continues to be the leading source of toxic pollution, with substantial contribution from fireplaces and wood stoves in residential areas.

Air toxics are pollutants known or suspected to cause serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and lung and nerve damage.

Wood smoke isn't the worst offender. A separate report also issued this month puts the most blame on diesel-powered vehicles for creating taxic air.

People of virtually all ages "miss hundreds of work and school days each year due to the pollution from diesel exhaust and wood burning," said Craig Kenworthy, executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which operates in Pierce, King, Kitsap and Snohomish counties. "We need to work on ways to heat our homes and move our goods without putting our health at risk."

He said residents of Pierce County would help that cause if they "take advantage of our wood smoke reduction program." The program offers money to replace older, inefficient wood stoves with electric, natural gas or propane heating alternatives.

"A few decades ago, protecting the air in the Puget Sound region hinged on managing factories and industrial sources of pollution," said Kenworthy. "Today, clean air depends more on the individual choices every one of us makes every day."

In its study, the Clean Air Agency sampled for about 100 air pollutants in Seattle and Tacoma during 2008-09. Key findings, as reported this month, include:

• Wood smoke from residential fireplaces and woodstoves contributes a higher proportion of potential cancer risk in residential neighborhoods in Tacoma than other Puget Sound areas, as well as some other areas nationally.

• Nine pollutants overall were at levels of concern for public health.

• Emissions from transportation such as cars, trucks and ships contribute the biggest health risk. Diesel engines in particular contribute the most to potential cancer risk in the Puget Sound region, representing more than 70 percent of the potential of cancer from air toxics at the Seattle sites and over 40 percent at the Tacoma residential sites.

The Puget Sound region ranks in the country’s top 5 percent of risk for exposure to toxic air pollution, with diesel and gasoline engines the leading sources of the toxics, according to the National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment released March 11 by the EPA.

"We need cleaner diesel fleets, especially along our major transportation corridors," said Kenworthy.

http://dispatchnews.com/main.asp?Sectio ... M=45498.04
• 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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