Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

We need wood smoke regulation

I read Robb Davis’ commentary on wood smoke with interest, as I am one of those who have health issues exacerbated by smoke. I am a migraineur. I love my neighborhood and wonderful neighbors, with the exception of one. Unfortunately, this neighbor burns wood and other stuff on a regular basis and has two fireplaces. The smoke fills my house and garage and I cannot open windows to air it out when she is burning or I just let in more contaminants.

I employed Robb’s “citizen-centered approach” after an episode when paper ash from her fire fell into my hot tub and blew around my back yard. I brought literature, was polite and apologetic. The response was a screaming woman telling me she bought a house with a fireplace and would burn whatever and whenever she pleased, and if I didn’t like it I could sell my house and move.

Some people are going to remain self-centered, inconsiderate and environmentally unconcerned no matter what. The air we breathe belongs to all of us; nobody should be permitted to ruin it. I can’t believe there are homes in my area (East Central Davis) that were built without heaters (though many have gas wall heaters), yet this area has been determined to have the worst particulate matter contamination in Davis.

I am not a strong advocate of regulation, but I do believe this critical issue needs some regulation. We’ve tried other means and they haven’t worked. It’s time.
Pam Helm
Davis

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 31 comments

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  • Airquality AustraliaOctober 14, 2013 - 7:19 pm

    Reminds me of the debate surrounding tobacco smoking at work. After getting rid of that source of toxic pollution, most people appreciate the health benefits and would not want to return to the bad old days. Same applies to wood smoke legislation; once it is introduced, few people will want to go back to days of unhealthy pollution.

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  • Alan SmithOctober 14, 2013 - 7:55 pm

    There are problems with wood burning stoves, fireplaces, chimineas and fire pits: in fact with all wood burning in an urban area. I receive tragic e-mails from Alaska to Australia and across the Atlantic in Britain and Europe where families' health has been damaged by a neighbors wood smoke. More detailed studies in Australia identify deaths from wood smoke No one likes regulations but there are clean options such as natural gas or propane. Wood burning in an urban area should be a criminal offence. Canadian Clean Air Alliance

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  • BarbaraOctober 14, 2013 - 8:25 pm

    Pam, in Southern CA, the AQMD passed a new regulation to limit recreational beach burning within 700 feet of residences. Contact your air quality district and also write to your State Assembly Member. Tell them your story. The largest air quality management district in the world determined that the harmful particulates from one open fire are equal to the second hand smoke of 800 cigarettes!

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  • JoeOctober 14, 2013 - 8:57 pm

    I see the fireplace banners are posting in force today. They sure brought out the troops. Since we had a total of only eight homes that complained all last year I don't see it as a big problem.

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  • ResearchGirlOctober 15, 2013 - 2:50 am

    Breathing is not an option, recreational burning is. One man or woman's right to burn ends at another's nose. Wood smoke is filled with fine particulate, carcinogens, PAHs and VOCs. The National Ambient Air Quality standards sets fine particulate limits at a limit for a reason. With nearly 1 in 10 children with asthma and high levels of PM 2.5 causing serious health impacts, it is time for people to understand that woods smoke is a major health issue.

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  • Bill LewinOctober 15, 2013 - 9:15 am

    Joe you don't see a big problem? try being one of the 8, then if you don't see the problem, perhaps you are part of the problem

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  • JoeOctober 15, 2013 - 9:28 am

    We basically have 8 people complaining out of a population of 65,000. So are we going to try and appease everyone's complaints about whatever problem they might have or perceive to have?

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  • JoeOctober 15, 2013 - 5:48 am

    I see that we possibly have 5 of the 8 people posting that complained last year about wood smoke in all of Davis. Or is it just one posting under several different aliases? This is nothing more than a solution looking for a problem.

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  • CatrunOctober 15, 2013 - 6:39 am

    Wood smoke trespass is not just a Davis issue and not a conspiracy to take rights away from "burners" but to take clean air from neighbors.Burning is not a right.Being able to enjoy your property and having access to all public areas is. Your so called rights to burns ends when your toxic chemicals leave your property and sicken other people.High risk groups are infants,children,pregnant women,people with asthma,heart disease,copd,diabetes.it is also linked to autism and SIDS.

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  • alfOctober 15, 2013 - 7:20 am

    Can someone suggest a good source of basic information about the health risks of wood smoke? This topic makes me wonder about the exposure of wildland firefighters not wearing breathing apparatus like city firefighters do, also.

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  • MarcosLBOctober 15, 2013 - 9:49 am

    Here is are a couple of links regarding the health effects of wood smoke. http://ehhi.org/woodsmoke/health_effects.shtml http://burningissues.org/car-www/index.html If you don't believe that it is bad for your health, try lighting a small un-vented fire indoors and see how you feel after a few minutes.

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  • Bill LewinOctober 15, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    good educational video for those interested http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaxSgglRpLY

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  • RudyOctober 15, 2013 - 9:47 am

    Looks like most of you want to ban wood burning in the fireplace. ok so lets ban all wood burning say by by to your favorite BBQ (you know they use wood) let also outlaw smoking wait we already do that and while we are at it lets outlaw Gas and Diesel powered cars and lets all drive electric cars that will help the inviroment. and those nasty power plants they put out pollutants. But wait they produce the electricity that we need to charge our electric cars. So lets not have cars and use public transportation. no we cant do that the busses and trains use diesel or electricity or naturnal gas to run and they also put out pollutants so lets all go back to the hourse and buggy. That way President Obama would get the shovel ready jobs he has talked about. What does every one think

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  • Bill LewinOctober 15, 2013 - 12:46 pm

    Unfortunately we are not living back in the horse and buggy era with so many people living in such close proximity to one another eliminating unnecessary pollution can only be a good thing

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  • Alan SmithOctober 22, 2013 - 6:34 am

    Analysis of the polluted air in an urban centre identifies very little exposure to smoke from power plants. It is the pollution sources close to our homes that we need to worry about, but particularly neighbour's wood smoke. The city of Montreal is to get rid of the filthy things as a wood stove. for example, pollutes as much as several hundred automobliles.

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  • CatrunOctober 15, 2013 - 12:20 pm

    Hi Alf great resources here http://burningissues.org/car-www/index.html And you are correct to be concerned for firefighters being unprotected without masks.While they are young they might only get chest congestion,bronchitis,coughing and tearing eyes.Or they may develop life long respiratory issues such as asthma,bronchitis or copd. I think OSHA requires these masks. It is unconscionable that masks are not a safety requirement.

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  • alfOctober 17, 2013 - 2:09 am

    thanks for the reply

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  • CatrunOctober 15, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    Rudy,I for one think you should get spell check and evolve into this century,medical progress and discoveries has been made in this field via scientists and other experts. Wood smoke is carcinogenic and unhealthy for people as well as the "inviroment", aka environment. There will be a shortage of people for jobs should nothing be done to protect our people and the environment.

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  • Mike HughesOctober 15, 2013 - 12:49 pm

    Well, it certainly doesn't take much to get the denizens of the village of right and relevant to get out the pitch forks and torches (oops, only the electric and propane types). I am confident that breathing dense wood smoke in a closed area is not healthy. I am unconvinced however that occasional exposure to the minute concentration of particulate matter generated by one's residential fireplace or wood burning stove is equivalent to hundreds or cigarettes or leading to tragic health problems abroad or autism or SIDS or COPD. This is another example of a few, expressive individuals complaining about a non-problem that affects almost nobody. I would be more concerned about violence, poverty, disease and inequity than I am about wood smoke.

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  • RudyOctober 15, 2013 - 1:08 pm

    Well catrun Im just a simple minded person with out the UC Davis Degree that you clearly have. Can you please tell me where the spell check is on the Davis Enterprise website. If their is a shortage of people to fill the jobs then unimployment would be zero and President Obama just might get reelected for a 3rd term. and i will just be that would make you all warm and fuzzy in side.

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  • CatrunOctober 15, 2013 - 1:03 pm

    Opinions are just that opinions,there is no disputing scientific fact. 16 days of inhaling my upwind neighbors "minute" PM ended with me in the ER with fluid in both lungs and 6 months of antibiotics and steroids.Until you have been there I guess you don't know. Oh I forgot to mention the smoke,turned my koi pond into an acid bath and nearly burned them to death.Two died a few weeks later. Try sitting 100 feet downwind for a day or two so you can experience it first hand.

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  • Alan MillerOctober 15, 2013 - 5:50 pm

    Oh yeah? Tell those in favor of fluoride and those against fluoride that! They would both vehemently agree and disagree with you!

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  • CatrunOctober 15, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    Gee Rudy I believe spell check comes with your regular computer ap.I actually have never been on this site before yesterday I picked this up on twitter. I don't know why you have injected Obama into the discussion of clean air,since this is not a political forum. I am guessing you are assuming several things here? As you are assuming that clean air is not a worthwhile or achievable goal to be concerned with as well? Perhaps we should return to the days of our ancestors and die at 40 from some pollution caused ailment which would probably be wood smoke. Let's just do nothing and destroy the Planet and go to Planet B....oh wait there isn't one. You are right Rudy you are a bit simple,I am impressed that you at least own it!

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  • CathyOctober 15, 2013 - 7:26 pm

    Emissions from even new wood burning appliances have negative impacts for neighbours that really are unavoidable. More public awareness and better regulations, including wood burning bans, are needed to protect people in communities where cleaner alternatives are available. In urban areas, everyone is sharing the air, and many are sensitive to smoke. People should not have to breathe unwanted smoke in their own home or backyard. Wood burning bans have been shown to prevent illness and save lives. As the writer of this letter rightly notes, it is time for a change.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 15, 2013 - 8:35 pm

    Banning wood-smoke strikes me as a bad idea, except on those few days where the science suggests that wood fires will cause a generalized problem for the entire area. That is now well regulated by the AQMD. ........ My experience is that 90-99% of people are not bothered in the least by a little wood-smoke or by having a neighbor who lights his fireplace. (Who among us doesn't love a camp fire?) But that said, the 1% or so who are hyper-sensitive still have a right to breathe smoke-free air in their home or right around it. ....... What I suggest, then, is that, if a resident (Party A) files a complaint against his neighbor (Party B), the City of Davis needs to warn Party B that Party A has complained. And if Party B lights an offending fire a second time, the hyper-sensitive Party A should call the cops and the cops need to determine (using a smoke meter) whether the air near A's home is smoke-filled. If it is, then Party B should get a ticket for harming Party A. ...... If we did something like that, then most people in town who like to light their fireplaces could do so and no one would be hurt by it. Only those unlucky enough to live next to the hypersensitive types could not.

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  • Families for Clean AirOctober 15, 2013 - 11:22 pm

    There were some requests above for a source for information about the health effects of wood burning. Families for Clean Air's site has facts about the health and environmental hazards of wood burning based on the latest scientific and public health research. http://www.familiesforcleanair.org/

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  • CommonsenseOctober 21, 2013 - 6:22 pm

    This is exactly why the so-called "Tea Party" is a failure: they claim to not want any "dad-burned gub-mint regulations" and so think they can "do anything we want to" because "this is a free country." um... that's not what "free country" even means!

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  • Mike HughesOctober 22, 2013 - 10:11 am

    Mr. Smith - Do you have any credible references or studies to substantiate your claim that a wood burning stove emits as much pollution as hundreds of automobiles? Thank you. Mike Hughes

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  • Alan SmithOctober 22, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    It is the City of Montreal's staff that pointed out that a wood stove pollutes as much in an evening (8 hrs) as a automobile does in a year. This the equivalent of 3 automobiles over 24 hrs and our heating season is 180 days giving the equivalent of 540 automobiles. The Montreal Gazette had the story about six months ago and I have probably deleted it as the computer gets overloaded as there are so many concerns around the world re wood smoke but I will look. I am told that today's autos pollute 1g/hr or the equivalent of a day's driving in Red Deer. Even if a stove could be produced to emit 1g/h and assuming, as in Red Deer, that the average daily driving is one hour, the stove emits the equiv of 24 autos. Local EPA/CSA stoves supposedly emit 7/g/hr ot the eqiv of the daily output of 168 auros. In reality, with green wood, Canadian tests showed emissions as high as 60 g/hr bur this data has gone. Will check for data.

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  • Alan SmithOctober 22, 2013 - 7:56 pm

    Montreal has banned the further installation of wood burning appliances and given residents seven years to render existing units inoperable. The decision was based on findings that one wood stove pollutes as much in an evening as an automobile does in a year. Putting this another way, a wood stove pollutes as much as several hundred automobiles. The press coverage is still available by Googling Montreal Gazette/wood smoke

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  • Alan SmithOctober 23, 2013 - 9:20 pm

    A major problem is that politicians act on the number of complaints. as if we have a sixth sense that warns us of exposure to dangerous chemicals. Probably no city council receives complaints about the hazards of lead, mercury, benzene, hexavalent chromium, and so on.. People have to be told of the hazards but this did not happen with wood smoke even though concerns go back to historical times. Even in the absence of this data even the simplest of tests on the emissions would have identified a concern. Again Googling Montreal Gazette/wood smoke will outline their plans to eliminate wood smoke.

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