Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change + Wood Burning Smoke

Most people still haven’t connected the dots about burning wood and the toxic polluting contaminants that infiltrates into our air when they throw a log in the fireplace which sends plumes of carbon monoxide, dioxin and other carcinogenic cancer causing chemicals into the air that we breath.

In my densely spaced suburban neighborhood where our side yard set backs are 6 feet , ( this means our houses are 12 apart from one another ) all of the houses were built with central heating systems.
There is no reason to use the fireplace as a source of heat. Creating a fire is simply an act of aesthetics.

This is my next door neighbor’s house. He loves to build a roaring fire at the slightest dip in the temperature.
From Wood Smoke Pollution

The smoke from his fireplace blows directly into the attics and into the surrounding homes causing the adjacent neighbors to turn on attic fans, shut our window and doors and in some cases turn on the air filters and bring the kids indoors who have asthma.

Asthma is a huge problem in many areas of the country and wood smoke contributes greatly to it.
Respiratory diseases are the most obvious of the widely acknowledged effects of wood smoke inhalation. Children's studies show that living in homes or communities where wood is burned causes increased respiratory symptoms, lower respiratory infection and decreased pulmonary function.

This is another neighbor. She is one of the grossest polluters in the ‘hood.
She burns wood even on warm days and could care less about the negative environmental impact she is making. She also drives one of those huge SUV’s that is so big it sticks out into the street because it can’t fit into the driveway.

From Wood Smoke Pollution


There are several excellent educational websites that can provide you with more in depth information in how to keep our air cleaner and our habitants healthier :

Burning issues - http://burningissues.org/fact-sheet.htm

Bay Area Air Quality - http://www.baaqmd.gov/The-Air-District/Mission-Statement.aspx

Spare the Air - http://www.sparetheair.org/about/spare_the_air_winter.htm

11 comments:

Christine said...

What is the guy in the first picture burning? Pine needles?! Sheesh.

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

Michelle,
I developed asthma as an adult. I had no idea how caustic wood smoke and wood ash were until moving here 10 years ago and restoring the wood-burning fireplace in our home. I'd always yearned to sit around a blazing fire, but when I did - and had to clean up the ash afterwards, the effect was immediately apparent - I had great difficulty breathing. Needless to say, the fireplace rests in its place of honor.
My neighbors, like yours, pollute the air with billowing clouds of smoke. It hangs over our house on still days, when I must avoid going into the garden, or take a walk.
We have a phone number that ran in the IJ, to report wood fires. It may just be for spare the air days, though: 877-4-NO-BURN
I need to check and see if there are limits to the Marin fireplace ban.

House things I like said...

That's rough. Do your neighbors have any idea about the problem this is causing? Or, are they like my neighbors, simply ill-mannered idiots?

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hello all,

House, My neighbors are just ill mannered idiots who care nothing for the environment.
The guy across the street who clothes the neighborhood with smoke is also the guy with the perpetual water sprinkler who waters his lawn every day despite water rationing requests and who fires up his 2 stoke lawn mower on spare the air days.
You hardly ever see the recycling bins out on garbage day from either neighbor either. It just isn't in their vocabularies.
They aren't clueless, they are just arrogant.

Alice, So far Marin County has banned wood burning only in the 'county' areas. Communities within the city limits are allowed to have fires except on 'Spare the Air days'.
It doesn't make any sense to me to have the high density areas covered in smoke all winter long while the large open expanses of land have 'no use rules'. Go figure.
I hope they will lower the emissions count and we will have more Spare the Air days.
It's tough on people to have to hole up inside for health reasons because a few ruin the air quality for everybody.

Christine,
My neighbors garage is filled with chopped wood that he gets delivered each fall. I don't know what kind of wood he uses but it stinks like hell.


It's backward thinking.

phrago said...

Maybe his garage could spontaniously combust...
just a thought, HEHE

Building Materials Supplies said...

Climate Change + Wood Burning Smoke

Thanks for sharing!

Tom in Denver said...

I'm with ya on this one. It seems like something to take up with the local government. Maybe they could have a rebate incentive program to convert fireplaces to gas.

We have the same thing here- people crank up the fireplaces as soon as the temperatures drop. Denver has fought the pollution battle for years with some significant improvement from the 1970's and 80's. Now by code new and remodeled homes can only have built-in gas fireplaces.

But we still have all the old fireplaces and there are still plenty of charcoal grillers too (including a neighbor, cough-cough).

And the fireplace ban does not cover people who buy those portable outdoor firepits and use them when it's 55 degrees outside!

ryan said...

I was in Yosemite Valley in July, and the air there is really shocking. The haze from the cars and all the campfires is visible in the air, like being inside a bar. I guess for some people it's not camping unless they have an RV and a campfire.

Anonymous said...

"She burns wood even on warm days"

When my dad would see a chimney spouting wood smoke on a warm day, he would say:

"They must be making whiskey!"

Anonymous said...

Have any of your habitual wood burning neighbors been cited by the air district. My neighbor burns for hours, I have filed many complaints, and not even a warning letter has been issued. I do not believe the air district is serious about improving air quality. They are doing as little as possible.

I have not found a supervisor, city council member, environmental or sustainable organization that is interested in fighting for our right to breathe air free of toxic wood smoke in our own homes.

We need a coalition of people who are affected and tired of being forced to breathe bad air. Stop suffering in silence. The wood burners are a small but very vocal minority. Take action: write your city council, mayor, supervisor, air district and demand they enforce Regulation 6. We need hundreds of people just in Marin for the politicians to take notice.

Fight for your health!

Bianca said...

Of late, I talk about how sad life has become. I moved my horses off the property because I couldn't stand to let them be in wood smoke soup all the time. I board now at great expense. We are surrounded by eight indoor wood burning stoves that burn 24/7. Don't you know it is illegal to burn trash, who's stopping them, you think we can't smell it. Don't move to East Haddam, CT, because your air will only be of wood smoke. You will never breathe clean fresh air again in East Haddam, CT.

Disgusted.