Wood Smoke is Damaging people’s Health and the environment

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Wood Smoke is Damaging people’s Health and the environment

Postby Wilberforce » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:01 pm

Wood Smoke is Damaging people’s Health and the environment

By Carol Dines
Spring is almost here and, for people like me with asthma, that used to mean an end to winter
fires and a few months of cleaner air in the neighborhood. Unfortunately that’s no longer true.
During the past years, the proliferation of outdoorfire-pits and fireplaces has caused wood smoke
to be a yearround problem that impacts the health of all of us. The resulting environmental and
health impacts caused by wood smoke are causing many people to think twice before they light
their next fire.

Harvard’s Public Health Magazine reports that “Wood smoke has some of the most insidious
chemicals known to man” including benzene, formaldehyde and dioxins. Joel Schwartz, a Harvard
researcher says, “There is no safe level of particle pollution.”

The fire that for you may evoke happy memories of the past is filling your children’s (and your
neighbors’) lungs with harmful particulate pollution generated by wood smoke.

Recent reports by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) point to numerous studies linking
wood smoke particle levels to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits. David
Fairley, an air quality specialist who has studied this problem in California, says, “Simply banning
or limiting wood fires could potentially save many lives at little or no cost. And yet, despite the
mounting evidence, most people are unaware that wood smoke is more dangerous than cigarette
smoke because it stays in the lungs longer. The microscopic particles of wood smoke can bypass
the body’s filtering system and collect in remote regions of the lungs, aggravating asthma, COPD,
bronchitis, cardiac conditions and even diabetes.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, asthma death rates have increased 50% across
the board for age, gender and ethnic groups since 1980. During the same period, the death rate
for children from asthma has increased by 80% with lung disease as the leading cause of death
among newborns. Asthma is also the most chronic health condition among children and accounts
for one-fourth of the emergency room visits in the U.S. with an average hospital stay of three days.
It is the number one cause of school absenteeism among children and the fourth leading cause of
work absenteeism among adults.

Closer to home, 12 percent of Minneapolis children have diagnosed asthma and the rate is only
slightly lower for adults. Moreover, Minnesota’s asthma rates are higher than the national average
and one reason may be our air quality. In a 2009 Forbes article, Minneapolis was rated the sixth
worst city for air pollution largely because of our particle pollution problem and it has only gotten
worse since then.

According to a Washington State Department of Ecology report burning two cords of wood produces
the same amount of mutagenic particles as driving 13 gasoline powered cars 10,000 miles at 20 miles
per gallon. Nevertheless, according to the Chief Fire Marshall, recreational fires have gone up 50% in
the last ten years.

Wood smoke is now shown to be a major contributor to global warming. The Nobel Prize-winning
International Global Panel on Climate Change stated that “reducing or eliminating wood and other
biomass burning is one of the easiest and most effective ways for us to curb global warming.”

Cities around the world are taking a stand on this issue. Minneapolis is also looking at ordinances
that would require permits and/or limit burning to protect the health of all its citizens.

We need to educate people about the harmful effects of woodsmoke. One of the biggest tests we
face is whether we can change our habits in time to curb the severe impact of global warming.
Reducing residential wood smoke is one clear way to reduce particle pollution and improve public
health. The choice is yours.

For further information: info@ takebacktheair.com and www.burningissues.org.

Carol Dines lives in the East Calhoun Neighborhood, is a writer, teaches yoga for respiratory conditions
and is a member of Take Backthe Air.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/83349008/Marc ... rhood-News
• 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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