Monday, December 31, 2007

Duh, it is pollution and it is toxic.

What Happens When Wood Burns?

Complete combustion gives off light, heat, and the gases carbon dioxide and water
vapor. Because when wood burns complete combustion does not occur, it also
produces wood smoke, which contains the following major air pollutants, which are
regulated by State and Federal regulations because of their known health effects:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) – An odorless, colorless gas,
produced in large amounts by burning wood with insufficient
air. CO reduces the blood’s ability to supply oxygen to body
tissues, can cause stress on your heart and reduce your ability
to exercise. Exposure to CO can cause long-term
health problems, dizziness, severe headaches,
unconsciousness and other serious effects. Those most at risk
from CO poisoning are the unborn child, and people with
anemia, heart, circulatory or lung disease.

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) – NOx impairs the respiratory system and its ability to
fight infection. NOx also combines with VOCs and contributes to the formation of
ozone and with water vapor to form acid rain or acid fog.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – Evaporated carbon compounds which react
with NOx in sunlight to form ozone (photochemical smog). Ozone injures the lungs
and makes breathing difficult, especially in children and exercising adults. NOx and
VOCs also form particulate matter through a series of complex reactions.
Toxic Pollutants – Wood smoke also contains VOCs which
include toxic and/or cancer-causing substances,
such as
benzene, formaldehyde and benzo-a-pyrene, a polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). Manufactured fireplace logs, for
instance, are not recommended for burning because they
produce toxic fumes, including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Researchers are
now studying these and other smoke products to learn more about their effects on
human health.
Particulate Matter less than 10 microns in
diameter (PM10) are very small droplets of
condensed organic vapors of wood tar and
gases. These particles are a result of unburned
fuel and have a diameter of 10 microns or
smaller (the diameter of a human hair is about
50 to 100 microns), which allows them to be
inhaled into the lungs. Exposure to PM10
aggravates a number of respiratory illnesses.
PM10 includes a smaller group of particles called PM2.5, particles with diameters of
2.5 microns and less. These finer particles pose an increased health risk because
they can lodge deep in the lungs and contain substances that are particularly harmful
to human health, contributing to lung diseases and cancer. Exposure to PM2.5 may
even cause premature death in people with existing heart and lung disease.

3 comments:

sky said...

We also have a fireplace in out old house, but we have never used it. I was thinking of getting it checked and repaired, so that we can enjoy a fire when it gets cold, but after reading about your experience, I will opt for one of those "fake" gas burning fire places.
In any case - I am appalled about the behavior of your new neighbors. I hope you get better.

Deviant Deziner said...

What is really appalling is when it is 62 degrees out during the day and the neighborhood is filled with smoke from just one fireplace burning wood smoke.

Why don't parents put two and two together when their kids can't play outside because they are having an asthma attack or have inordinate amount of colds during the winter.

I just offered to pay my neighbors Gas and Electric for the rest of the winter if she would just stop burning wood during the day time.
She slammed her door shut on me.

Ignorance runs deep.

squirrelgardens said...

You and I have the same neighbor. Mine is a doctor. Minnesota is a terrible place to live in the winter and summer. Wood smoke everywhere with fireplaces, wood burning stoves and firepits.

City ordinances will not enforce. We tried and were told that WE were bringing the value of homes in my neighborhood down. Shunned by your neighborhood is not fun.

Doctors sometimes make the worse neighbors. Not moving because we spent a fortune on a hospital grad air cleaner attached to the furnace. At least we did whhat we could to protect ourselves.