Sunday, October 15, 2017

Message to WEAC

Oh, the irony!
Sign at Cowan Park, with fire pit in background.

e-mail sent July 2017:

Hello, members of WEAC
It has been over a year since I last had occasion to comment on your agenda, so I will once again touch base with you and share some thoughts.
Last July the subject of your Green Tips column in WOW was smog, to which I responded with a UR opinion piece published in the Sentinel Review on July 26, 2016; it's also on my blog, with your column reproduced for reference:
Needless to say the dangerous and highly polluting practice of open air burning continues to be legal in Woodstock, and what I called "the general level of ignorance regarding wood smoke" prevails (see the post "Would you do this to YOUR grandmother?", which includes an excerpt from the MOECC's website):

Today I would like to bring to your attention the website of Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution:
I encourage each of you to explore the material presented under the "Health", "Residential Sources" and "Environment" tabs, including the extensive bibliographies of scholarly articles.
You might then wish to ask yourselves why WEAC continues to tolerate a practice as damaging to human health and to the environment as open air burning.

I look forward to your response.

In that e-mail I provided links to three sites:
1) the website of DSAWSP, which includes a bibliography of over 400 articles regarding wood smoke, which I encouraged you to explore
2) Pictures and story of the campfire event held at Woodingford Lodge in September of 2016
(and if this event didn't horrify you, you need to review the previous information)
3) my critique of WEAC's Green Tips column on smog, from July 2016

To which I would like to add one comment:  the column discourages driving and idling.
Research done in California where they studied the impact of beach bonfires concluded:
"The particulate emissions rate per minute from one beach bonfire is equal to that from:
Three average big-rig diesel trucks; or
The secondhand smoke from 800 cigarettes. Wood smoke contains many of the same toxic chemicals as secondhand cigarette smoke.
Also, one fire pit in one evening emits as much fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) as one big-rig diesel truck driven 564 miles."

There has been a lot of new information about fine particulate matter since Woodstock's Bylaw was passed in 2013.
This is what the MOECC says:
"Exposure to fine particulate matter has been associated with hospital admissions and several serious health effects, including premature death. People with asthma, cardiovascular or lung disease, as well as children and elderly people, are considered to be the most sensitive to the effects of fine particulate matter. Adverse health effects have been associated with exposure to PM2.5 over both short periods (such as a day) and longer periods (a year or more)."

The World Health Organization, on particulate matter:

"PM10 and PM2.5 include inhalable particles that are small enough to penetrate the thoracic region of the respiratory system. The health effects of inhalable PM are well documented. They are due to exposure over both the short term (hours, days) and long term (months, years) and include:
• respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity, such as aggravation of asthma, respiratory symptoms and an increase in hospital admissions;
mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and from lung cancer.

Susceptible groups with pre-existing lung or heart disease, as well as elderly people and children, are particularly vulnerable. For example, exposure to PM affects lung development in children, including reversible deficits in lung function as well as chronically reduced lung growth rate and a deficit in long-term lung function (4). There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure or a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur. The exposure is ubiquitous and involuntary, increasing the significance of this determinant of health."

The most important recent document to bring to your attention is a joint publication from Public Health Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario entitled "The environmental burden of cancer in Ontario"

Background legislation:  most open air burning is limited under
O. Reg. 213/07, PART 2, FIRE SAFETY, FIRE CODE (1), which states:

"Open-air burning shall not be permitted unless approved, or unless such burning consists of a small, confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue."

Municipalities who are savvy, leave it at that.

Personally, I couldn't serve on a committee that I felt existed only for window dressing.
I wonder if the same is true for the other Woodstock advisory committees.
Personally, I am really annoyed if my tax dollars are wasted on such committees, and I'm beyond annoyed, I'm angry, that my tax dollars are spent on an infrastructure that exists only to pollute, by which I mean Fire Dept. staff going out to inspect sites and issue burn permits, and then wasting more resources in responding to complaints.

I expect that everyone on this committee has respect for science, and supports evidence-based decision making.
The evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that burning wood is bad for human health, and bad for the environment.
If this committee chooses to NOT advise Council AGAINST open air burning, every one of you is complicit in the suffering, illness, and expense - both personal expenses, and our collective healthcare costs - that ensue from Woodstock's open air burning policy.

other studies:

Biomass burning as a source of ambient fine particulate air pollution and acute myocardial infarction
Air pollution and mortality in the Medicare population
Particulate matter air pollution and the risk of incident CKD and progression to ESRD

No comments:

Post a Comment