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Woodsmoke: More Concrete Steps Are Needed

Woodsmoke: More Concrete Steps are Needed

I’ve sat-in on several meetings of the DEQ Woodsmoke Workgroup. I’ve traveled to Eugene, Bend, Salem, La Grande, Pendleton and Beaverton as the DEQ formulated then presented their Initial Recommendations.

I’m not satisfied.

Woodsmoke is a persistent problem in every jurisdiction, worldwide. Oregon with its vast forests and lumber industries represents an added challenge, but regulators everywhere struggle to make progress against what the PDX City Club called in their 2013 Air Toxics Report,

Woodsmoke, it’s Portland’s #1 air toxic

And that preeminent rating won’t be changing one iota based on what DEQ has presented as their recommendations so far.

That’s a shame on so many levels, but mostly it irks me because it wastes time. DEQ is proposing further study of bio-bricks – maybe that’ll be very enlightening, but they’re missing the boat by not jumping into a statewide education program immediately.

We burn wood for all the wrong reasons. At what point did you learn of the adverse health effects? Remember the shock? We’re shocked to learn that the particulate matter in woodsmoke is a Group 1 Carcinogen, according to the Word Health Organization. We’re shocked when we discover that woodsmoke adversely affects our kids most of all. We’re shocked to learn that that cozy beach bonfire emits the equivalent of 800 cigarettes, per minute!

He was shocked when I sat down with the founder of McMenamins – they burn wood 7 days a week right below my apartment, even worse – they’re poisoning their employees with everyday exposure. No one had ever told them.

No one knows because there’s almost no education. And without an educated electorate, DEQ will face entrenched resistance to change as they try to mitigate the issue. In my Public Comments I take issue with lame suggestions like providing tarps to cover wood piles and moisture meters to know when firewood is dried out, because,

[blockquote size=”full|half|third|fourth|two-thirds|three-fourths” align=”right” byline=”My quip at the DEQ Roadshow in La Grande”]You can’t burn your way out of this problem[/blockquote]

The Pendleton Air Quality Commission has made solid strides with their Wood Stove Replacement Program. DEQ should study their successful approach and propose a similar statewide program.

I suggest 15 immediate and long-term actions – read my Public Comments. If you have a suggestion, you have until Wednesday July 6th, 2016 to submit them here.

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