Learn More: Wood Fires and Woodsmoke
Because wood is among the most natural substances on earth, and its use as a fuel is universal, most people imagine that burning wood must be a perfectly benign thing to do. Breathing winter air scented by wood smoke seems utterly unlike puffing on a cigarette or inhaling the exhaust from a passing truck. But this is an illusion. - UCLA Neuroscientist & Author Sam Harris, The Fireplace Delusion
Surprised? I was when I first learned.
My mother would never let us enjoy a fire in the fireplace; she said it bothered her. Like most kids I thought she was just being a spoilsport. Decades later she would die from emphysema. Inheriting half of her characteristics, while learning of the inherent dangers of woodsmoke, I hope to avoid the same outcome.
It’s easy to be ignorant of the dangers. For over 16 years I lived at the beach where there were 27 fire rings. They were 500 feet away and if I was lucky, on many nights the prevailing breeze would blow the smoke out to sea – other nights I wouldn’t be so lucky. That was a lot of exposure over a long term. My neighbors hated the never-ending smoke, but we never had the political clout to insist on a change. Then one day we did.
Natural gas is a cleaner fuel choice than wood in terms of the emissions of fine particles and many other air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and benzene. - Minnesota Pollution Control AgencyIt’s a hard fought battle to educate your elected officials about the hazards from breathing wood smoke. In our case we were involuntarily exposed by recreational burning. What for some would be a single night of the year dancing around a bonfire was an every night nuisance for the nearby residents.
We started a movement that’s still working to fight for clean air. Along the way we’ve enlisted the support of doctors and scientists – politicians, too – in this long battle to convince the public that woodsmoke is harmful.
As you visit this site you’ll find many pages of information about the hazards – download the brochures and reports and show them to your neighbors and elected officials. Take lots of photos – we found that works the best when it comes to changing hearts and minds.
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