Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Clean Air Day: shall we light the fire pit?

June 3 2015 is Clean Air Day, part of Canadian Environment Week.
The day seems to pass unremarked in Woodstock, probably because we are home to more than 1200 little legal toxic incinerators, otherwise known as fire pits, thanks to our Open Air Burning Bylaw.   In Ontario most open air burning is prohibited by the Fire Code, unless the municipal government does an end run around that legislation and grants permission by passing its own bylaw, as Woodstock Council did in 2013.

So to mark the day, here is an excerpt from The Fireplace Delusion by Sam Harris (full text can be found on the internet):

"Here is what we know from a scientific point of view:  There is no amount of wood smoke that is good to breathe.  It is at least as bad for you as cigarette smoke, and probably much worse.  (One study found it to be 30 times more potent a carcinogen.)  The smoke from an ordinary wood fire contains hundreds of compounds known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, and irritating to the respiratory system.  Most of the particles generated by burning wood are smaller than one micron--a size believed to be most damaging to our lungs.  In fact, these particles are so fine that they can evade our mucociliary defenses and travel directly into the bloodstream, posing a risk to the heart.  Particles this size also resist gravitational settling, remaining airborne for weeks at a time."

To all those who are ready to comment that they "LOVE THE SMELL OF WOODSMOKE!", please remember that "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts".  Try to locate and quote some credible sources to support your position, if you would like to convince us that it's okay for you and everyone around you to breathe the smoke generated by your fire pit.

The above text appeared as a "UR Opinion" on the Sentinel Review's website on June 2, 2015.

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