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That cozy wood fire threatens your health

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.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 Agency

It’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.

We’re all in this together.

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