Please don't burn
About Take Back the
This website is designed to provide
basic information on how to press for wood smoke reduction with public
officials and others who need to better understand the hazards of wood
We are connected with other wood smoke
activists in the United States and Canada and we may be able to connect
you with others in your area who are working on these issues.
We are also involved with an online newsletter 'The Wood Smoke
Activist Network' which publishes monthly articles
to help fight wood smoke pollution at the grassroots to government
With skyrocketing asthma rates, and with asthma as the number one reason
for school absenteeism, we recognize that cities have 'accessibility
requirements' that require the removal of all barriers to the use of
public spaces for people with disabilities, according to the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA). To persons with asthma and other breathing
or cardiac disorders, wood smoke presents an actual physical barrier
that prevents increasing numbers of people, especially those with
asthma, from attending public events and using public spaces such as
city parks, streets and sidewalks.
Facts about wood smoke:
These pollutants are especially
hazardous to breathe because they all contain many of the same toxic,
cancer-causing and hormone disrupting chemicals that are in tobacco
smoke including lead, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, benzene, toluene,
formaldehyde and dioxin to name a few.
They can infiltrate both private and public spaces, such as parks,
streets and sidewalks, depriving many people of the basic right to
breathe clean air, even on their own properties. They are all a source
of fine particulates and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs and
fine particles are so miniscule that they escape filters and other
Their toxic chemicals are so "bioaccumulative", which means that they build
up and do not break down in the environment or in our lungs. They are
left to do damage over time in our bodies and to new generations through
our water, soil, crops, fish, fowl and our entire food chain.
Wood smoke: Not just a nuisance.....
it is a severe health hazard
Before smoking bans prohibited
smoking in bars and restaurants, people at least had a choice to not
patronize smoking establishments. But, no one has that choice now, even
on our own properties. We are forced to breathe wood smoke in all
seasons from back yard fire pits, indoor chimneys, wood-burning
restaurants and from travelling 'smokers' and also wood-burning grills
at public events.
Public bonfires have become the norm for many public, athletic and
school events. Smoke from outdoor recreational wood burning has
increased exponentially since the indoor smoking bans, corresponding
with the high asthma rates and absenteeism in our city schools.
There is currently no place or agency where anyone can turn to for
relief from wood smoke. We hope you will join our efforts toward cleaner
air in our communities. Our lives and that of our loved ones depend on
banding together for a 'larger voice'.
The science on wood stoves is clear: There is no safe level of wood
smoke. It is a well-documented public health hazard, according to the MN
Department of Health, US Centers of Disease Control, the American Lung
Associaton and many others.
The higher the particle pollution level in neighborhoods and cities,
the higher the premature death rates in general population.
Residential recreational wood burning and restaurant wood burning are
major sources of toxic balck carbon soot in neighborhoods where high
concentrations of people live.
Wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature
death in people of all ages. Children and unborn children are among the
most vulnerable along with the elderly or anyone with asthma, cardiac
conditions or other lung or breathing problems. These groups comprise a
significant portion of our population.
The Harvard School of Public Health studied 5 major American cities
during a 3-month experimental ban on wood burning. During that period
they found that hospital death rates from respiratory disease and heart
attacks went down dramatically.
London has banned wood, solid fuel and coal burning since 1957 when
about 4,500 people died in a high-particulate smog event, called the
'London Smog Incident'.
Wood smoke's fine particles are implicated in:
- Heart disease and heart attacks
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Reproductive and other birth defects, such as genital defects in
- Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Other neurological disorders including migraines, hyperactivity
- Wood smoke violates the property rights of taxpayers to
use and enjoy their property smoke-free.
Accessibility and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Wood smoke presents a 'physical barrier' that may
prevent some people with disabilities such as asthma or heart
disease from accessing public spaces.
- Cities have accessibility requirements under the ADA
Guidelines that require cities to remove all barriers to the use and
access of public spaces for people with disabilities. It is the law.
Global warming; Climate change
1. Wood smoke's black carbon soot is increasingly implicated in
climate change/global warming:
2. Wood smoke is a major source of fine particulate carbon soot
emissions which pollute clouds and interferes with the seeding of rain.
3. The United Nations (UN) urges wood smoke reduction.
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the facts, latest news, and opinions about the effects
of wood smoke and how it affects the lives of so many.
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