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Website demands wood burning ban

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:57 am
by Wilberforce
Website demands wood burning ban
By Kristin Morency, The Suburban (Quebec)

A West Island woman has launched a website to raise awareness about the effects of wood smoke pollution
in residential neighbourhoods.

Stella Haley, who lives in Pointe Claire, said that when her 31-year-old son was diagnosed two years ago with
sarcoma, a type of cancer, it prompted her to look into the correlation between air pollution and cancer.

“In looking at sarcoma, I looked at environmental cancers, and I realized that we better start to do something
about prevention,” Haley said in a phone interview.

“I decided to make it a public issue, to make people aware,” she said of her organization, called Citizens for
Environmental Health.

“But there’s a very unfortunate, deep, embedded resistance. Each person I approach outside of physicians,
gives the sense that this is not an issue and nobody wants to touch it,” she explained.

Haley said she raised her son, Shane Theriault, in Hudson.

“We were inundated with smoke from people who were committed to burning [wood] day after day,” she said.

“I knew at the time... There was a very high risk to [my son’s] health... He constantly played outside in that
smoke,” she said.

Montreal city council passed a resolution in April to find a way to combat pollution caused by wood heating.
The resolution also asked the provincial government to help find a solution to the problem.

To minimize the impact of wood smoke on health, Health Canada suggests choosing a low emission stove,
such as an appliance that is certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But Haley, who ran for city councillor in Pointe Claire in 2004, said that many people are fooled by the
certifications on wood burning stoves.

“What we have seen is that all of the testing is done and conducted by the industry [itself], they own and
conduct their tests and they self-certify themselves,” she said.

“There’s a conflict of interest — it’s extremely unbelievable.”

According to the Canadian Lung Association, wood stoves pollute the air with particulate matter (a mixture of
microscopic particles declared a toxic substance under the Environmental Protection Act, which can lead to
serious respiratory problems,) carbon monoxide (which can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, confusion,
and at very high levels, death,) oxides of nitrogen (which lower the resistance to lung infections and irritate
the lungs of people who suffer from asthma), as well as a slew of other chemicals that are harmful.

Children are particularly vulnerable to wood smoke, because their respiratory systems are still developing,
and because they have higher rates of activity and inhale more air, Health Canada says.

Haley said she had organized a conference on the topic of wood burning and its effects on childrens’ health,
to be presented at Pointe Claire city hall, but it fell through.

“When [Pointe Claire Mayor Bill McMurchie] heard this, he pretended he was going along with us, but two
weeks prior to the conference I got a call saying that we could no longer use the city hall for our conference,
because it’s only used for [council] meetings,” Haley said.

“That’s totally false. All I can say is that we need to work, to get ahead, and to stop smoke from causing
cancer, heart disease and asthma.

“On the street behind me, there is a woman who has lung cancer, and she never touched a cigarette,”
Haley added.

“Nobody’s death certificate says they died from wood burning smoke, because it’s been kept silent. We want
people to not have to experience cancer... If we can avoid it.”

For more information or to sign Haley’s petition:

2008-06-11 09:58:01

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Website demands wood burning ban