Backyard fire pits a health hazard — Woodstock resident

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Backyard fire pits a health hazard — Woodstock resident

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:24 pm

Backyard fire pits a health hazard — Woodstock resident

Ron Thomson, Sentinel-Review
Monday, June 11, 2012 3:47:10 EDT PM

WOODSTOCK - The public has the right to breathe clean air.

That’s the crux of Woodstock resident Alma Hyslop’s argument the city should ban backyard pits.

“Having lived most of my life in or near Toronto, I was thrilled to move to Woodstock two and half years ago,” Hyslop said. “One of the reasons being cleaner air.”

She didn’t find the clean air she hoped for with an abundance of backyard fire pits in her neighbourhood.

“We’re a family of four,” Hyslop said. “Two of my family members have respiratory-type allergies and one of those two also suffers from asthma. I live in a new subdivision where there is a lot building going on and at the present time there a two backyard fire pits that I can see and smell from my own house.”

Hyslop alluded to a Canadian Lung Association report, outlining the dangers of wood burning. According to the report Environment Canada and Health Canada have identified many hazardous chemical substances in wood smoke. Smoke is a complex mixture of gases and microscopic particles, the report states, that is an irritant to eyes and airways and can cause or aggravate respiratory illness and heart disease.

“I am horrified at the thought that more homes around me could be granted open-air burning permits by the City of Woodstock and subject my home and family to smoke,” she said.

In Woodstock, permits are granted through the open-air burning policy. The policy allows burning of charcoal, briquette or wood between 4 p.m. and midnight. Open burnings must be confined to non-combustible containers or to a pit no larger than two feet by two feet.

“What this actually means is if you buy or build a pit the right size, you call the fire department and they come and approve it, they grant you a permit then any fine day you can light a fire in an area of two-by-two feet, in which you can get a pretty good blaze going, and keep it burning for eight hours,” Hyslop said.

“During the time you’re burning you’re subjecting your own home, your neighbour’s properties and the whole community to smoke and the toxic by-products of the burning.”

Hyslop compared backyard burning to smoking in public. The difference being something is being done about smoking through the smoking in workplaces and public places bylaw.

“If I were to light a cigarette at city hall I would be convicted under the bylaw and subject to a fine of up to $5,000,” Hyslop said. “The open-air burning policy tells me how to get a permit to subject my neighbourhood to hours of smoke and toxic byproducts. What’s wrong here?”

According to the open-air burning policy, “the owner, occupant or permit holder must take steps to ensure that adjacent properties are protected and that the byproducts of open air burnings do not have a negative impact on persons, pets or the environment.”

Hyslop argues it’s not possible to meet those requirements.

“I suggest to you that said permit holder would need to be in possession of supernatural powers in order to fulfill this requirement,” she said. “No permit holder can confine the smoke to his property, nor can he prevent other persons or pets in the neighbourhood from inhaling smoke.”

The Woodstock Environment Advisory Committee has been made aware of the issue. However, Hyslop’s concerns just created a lot of debate from the committee members.

“People on our committee have open fires in their backyard,” Coun. Jim Northcott, who sits on the committee.

“I personally love the smell of wood burning. It doesn’t make me sick or anything. Last Christmas my two grand daughters came home and for about half an hour we roasted some marshmallows.”

There currently isn’t enough information for council to take action, banning backyard burning, Northcott said.

“At present time, I don’t feel I’m qualified to make a decision one way or another,” he said.

source ... k-resident
• 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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