Wood fires--wholesome or hypocritical?

Personal Situations - Problems or Solutions.

Moderator: pm2.5mary

Wood fires--wholesome or hypocritical?

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:37 pm

LETTER: Wood fires--wholesome or hypocritical?
by Contributor on 13 Apr 2012

Dear editor,

I’ve just been reading your story “Only YOU can prevent cancer now” and can support wholeheartedly the mission of the PCN (Prevent Cancer Now) campaigners.

What I find ironical though, and even hypocritical in some instances, is that we often read about campaigns about carcinogens from BPA, tanning beds, nuclear power, coal fired power, cigarette smoking, garden chemicals and weed killers, incineration plants and many other sources of cancer causing chemicals and toxins and yet quite happily ignore a major source in our own towns that we are, or can be, in total control of…wood smoke.

Your story uses the expression “you can’t fight fire with fire”. You can however “fight fire with no fire”…from burning wood.

Wood smoke is known to contain more carcinogens than cigarette smoke. It harms you and your neighbours, especially children and people with respiratory problems. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) researchers suggest that the lifetime cancer risk from woodstove emissions might be 12 x greater than the lifetime cancer risk from an equal amount of cigarette smoke.

One EPA study concluded that breathing wood smoke on high pollution days is equivalent to smoking 4 to 16 cigarettes.

Another study concluded that a single wood stove operating for an hour and burning 10 lb. of wood will generate 4300 times more carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons that 30 cigarettes.

The health risk from wood smoke pollutants is well documented. Wood smoke contains over 100 chemical compounds including many of the same chemical compounds as cigarette smoke including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hazardous metals, and known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, dioxin, benzene and toluene compounds.

The greatest hazard is from fine particulates less than 2.5 microns in size (a human hair varies in diameter from about 20 to 120 microns). These fine particles can enter homes, even with doors and windows closed and even homes without wood stoves have reportedly been found to reach 50 to 70% of outdoor levels. Moreover, it has been found that these fine particles penetrate deep into the lungs and are long lasting.

Wood burning stoves have been found to be the largest single source of small toxic particles entering our homes, in many cases from neighbours wood stove

A BC Government report says that wood provides about 10% of residential space heating requirements in BC whilst accounting for 97% of the pollution from space heating. . It mentions an air-shed modeling study in Quesnel which determined that the “residential” sector contributed up to 62% of fine particulates.

In the Rossland energy surveys, 7 to 9% of respondents use wood as a primary fuel source and over 50% use wood as a secondary heating source. A low cost solution to preventing or reducing these carcinogens in the air from wood smoke is quite simple….stop burning wood.

A further incentive to many conservation minded people who burn wood, under the impression that it is carbon neutral, should be the message from a campaign kicked off in February by Hillary Clinton on behalf of a Climate and Clean Air Coalition”. This campaign involves about 6 countries and the United Nations and targets “soot” from wood burning and diesel engines. The particulates or “black carbon”are now considered by researchers to be a significant contributor to global warming in addition to its known health risk.

Ken Holmes

http://boundarysentinel.com/news/letter ... ical-18479


Butte County Receives an F in Air Quality
March 30, 2012, 3:18 pm • Posted by Marley Zalay

Butte County received a whopping "F" on the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report card for 2011. This grade is calculated by collecting ozone and particulate matter (PM) data from various sites throughout the county. The air monitoring devices which measure these pollutants are located in Chico, Paradise and Gridley, and are operated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The largest source of fine particulate pollution during the winter is smoke from residential wood combustion, says Bob McLaughlin, Assistant Air Pollution Control Officer at Butte County Air Quality Management District (BCAQMD). The smaller the PM particles, the more deeply they can penetrate the lungs to negatively impact lung function. Ozone, another major air pollutant, is produced when common air contaminants react in the presence of sunlight. It’s the PM and ozone that make it hard to breathe for people suffering from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory conditions.

Pat Koskinen is an Oroville resident who has been suffering from COPD for 12 years. Her difficulty breathing and "shortness of breath is exacerbated by smoke from fireplaces in my neighborhood," as well as "when the rice farms burn. I go to pulmonary rehab at the Enloe Center in Chico, but there are no facilities like this in Oroville," she says. From 1999 to 2008, hospitalizations from COPD in Butte County have been significantly higher than the state average.

Roughly 17 percent of Butte County residents have been diagnosed with asthma. California Breathing reported 215 asthma hospitalizations in Butte County in 2010, 44 percent of whom were children younger than 17. Children are especially vulnerable to developing asthma because they have a smaller lung capacity and higher breathing rates than adults.

Julia Murphy of the Butte Environmental Council says, “It’s well known that Butte County has been exceeding particulate matter air emissions regulations for years. Even if we did address all our own air quality issues, we’d still be inheriting pollution that blows in from Sacramento.” Chico’s geographical location at the base of the foothills allows air pollutants to accumulate more readily than in other Butte County cities.

Weather, specifically high pressure systems, little to no wind, and low precipitation, also contributes to poor air quality in Butte County. The inversion layer that develops acts like a lid on a bowl, said McLaughlin, concentrating air pollution close to the Earth’s surface.

Nancy Evens, who lives in Chico, also feels the impact of wood smoke in her neighborhood. She developed asthma six years ago after living in Butte County for many years. Since then, she has had to curtail her outdoor activities in the winter because her asthma is intensified by the smoke. It can be so thick on high pressure days, she says, that "you can see it at night hanging above street lamps and you can definitely smell it." Many California communities have successfully improved regional air quality through wood stove buy-back programs, significantly reducing negative health effects, says Evens.

The BCAQMD administers the “Check Before You Light” program from November to February, requesting residents to voluntarily refrain from using wood burning stoves because of the potential for poor winter air quality. The problem is that many of us can’t afford heating our homes without wood burning stoves. Although the BCAQMD regulates agricultural burning, as well as industrial emissions, two large contributors to regional air pollution, it is impossible for them to measure the impact of residential burning on our poor air quality.

Dr. Matthew Fine, Chief Medical Officer and pulmonologist at Oroville Hospital works with patients suffering from COPD and asthma. It is difficult for one physician caring for individual patients to see the link between poor quality and respiratory conditions at any given time, he says, even though there is a strong suspicion that air pollution exacerbates COPD. Although he would prefer better air quality in Butte County, there are some factors we just cannot control, such as our location in the Central Valley. “I am happy about seeing more stringent regulations on car emissions and I would like to see more restrictions on residential wood burning on poor air quality days,” he says.

He encourages his patients with COPD not to use wood burning stoves, because it may severely aggravate symptoms. “My patients have trouble breathing when people in their neighborhood use wood burning stoves. I would like to see a program to help people afford to use gas or electric heating systems so that they don’t have to use wood burning stoves in the winter, when particulate pollution is especially high.”

http://blogs.kqed.org/ourxperience/2012 ... r-quality/
• 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!
User avatar
Posts: 6106
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:36 pm
Location: USA

Return to Opinion Letters, Blogs, and Discussion Groups

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests