Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Open Air Burning and Cancer (To Council, #1)

On calm summer evenings, many Woodstock neighbourhoods are filled with wood smoke from backyard fire pits.

I would like each member of Council to spend a few minutes perusing a report entitled “Environmental Burden of Cancer in Ontario”, a joint publication from Public Health Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario, available on the internet.
https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Environmental_Burden_of_Cancer_Key%20Messages_2016.pdf
https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Environmental_Burden_of_Cancer_in_Ontario_2016.pdf

This report ranks 23 environmental carcinogens, and concludes that 3 of those carcinogens are responsible for 90% of new environmental cancer cases in this province.
One of the top 3 carcinogens is FINE PARTICULATE MATTER (also known as PM2.5), and it is a key component of WOOD SMOKE.

BY ALLOWING OPEN AIR BURNING, WOODSTOCK COUNCIL IS THEREFORE INCREASING THE CANCER RISK FOR EVERY RESIDENT OF THIS COMMUNITY.

One of the reduction strategies for PM2.5 given in the report is “increasing the distance between areas with concentrated combustion emissions and where people live and work.” [p.5] 
Clearly, fires shouldn’t be burning in backyards.

You should notice how far down the list are other substances commonly recognized as carcinogenic, such as asbestos, formaldehyde, and second-hand tobacco smoke.  Consider, too, that there is no way to avoid inhaling wood-smoke-polluted air from a neighbour’s fire pit.

Backyard fires are illegal in many Ontario cities, including Guelph, Waterloo, Brantford and Cambridge.

In light of the cancer risk, I would appreciate hearing your justification for continuing to allow open air burning in Woodstock.

The above text was sent by e-mail to each member of Woodstock Council on June 27, 2018.f

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