CONNECTICUT RESIDENTS AGAINST WOOD SMOKE POLLUTION

WOOD SMOKE IS TOXIC - RESIDENTS POSSESS A LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE RIGHT TO LIVE FREE OF IT

EXPOSING THE REALITY OF RESIDENTIAL WOOD BURNING

SUPPORTING RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY WOOD SMOKE POLLUTION

HOLDING PUBLIC OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE

NOTICE

Connecticut Residents Against Wood Smoke Pollution's website is currently under construction. In the meantime, residents of Connecticut who are looking for information pertaining to involuntary exposure to wood smoke pollution are advised to review the following report created by Environment and Human Health, Inc., wherein the issue of residential wood burning, as well as the steps that residents can take to address it, is summarized with expertise: http://www.ehhi.org/woodsmoke-exposures.pdf.

THE REALITY OF RESIDENTIAL WOOD BURNING

The reality of residential wood burning is nothing like its Thomas Kinkade fictionality: Burning wood for heat and/or recreation is neither healthful nor environmentally friendly, and it constitutes a form of injustice when it results in the imposition of toxic emissions upon nonconsenting parties.

HEALTH EFFECTS

Exposure to wood smoke is linked to both acute and chronic health effects, including birth defects and cancer. These kinds of effects can exist independently of each another: Levels of exposure capable of producing chronic health effects may not be accompanied by any acute health effects, and vice versa. A small assortment of statements from various government agencies and nonprofit organizations regarding the impacts of residential wood burning on human health and well-being is provided below.

"Residential wood combustion creates health-damaging air pollution in locations where the public’s exposure is greatest – at home and in neighborhoods where people live."

- Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (N.E.S.C.A.U.M.)

"Wood burning in any form produces nuisance odors and smoke. [...] CT DPH is aware of numerous complaints due to smoke coming from various wood burning devices including “outdoor wood boilers” and wood stoves. [...] Neighbors negatively impacted by wood smoke may file complaints with a number of government agencies."

- Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT D.P.H.)

"The American Lung Association recognizes that pollution from the combustion of wood and other biomass sources poses a significant threat to human health, and supports measures to transition away from using these products for heat production. The American Lung Association calls for effective enforcement of existing laws and regulations governing the combustion of wood and other biomass sources, as well as the expanded regulation of air pollution emissions from these sources."

- American Lung Association (A.L.A.)

"The severity of potential health effects and magnitude of populations affected by wood smoke pollutants have led health scientists to conclude that exposure to it should be minimal. Wood smoke is comprised of numerous constituents including PM2.5, carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some VOCs and PAHs are respiratory irritants and also have carcinogenic and mutagenic properties, while carbon monoxide exposure has been associated with adverse respiratory and cardiac effects."

- Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT D.E.E.P.)

"[I]t is a dangerous misconception that burning wood is a source of clean fuel. In hundreds of studies in towns across the country, wood smoke exposure has been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, such as infant mortality and low birth weight, lung disease, heart attack, stroke and premature death."

- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (AK D.E.C.)

"Higher concentrations of smoke increase the likelihood of adverse health effects. But even at low levels, the substances in wood smoke can be harmful, so when burning wood, it is not only your family and those near the fire who may be exposed, but also neighbors in the surrounding area, some of whom may have underlying health problems. Wood smoke particles are so tiny that they remain suspended for long periods of time and readily penetrate into buildings with incoming cold air. Young children, the elderly, and people with asthma, lung, or heart disease are especially vulnerable to wood smoke in the air."

- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (M.P.C.A.)

"Some people like the smell of wood smoke. It reminds them of crisp fall days and winter evenings beside a cozy fire. Most people don’t realize this smell is a danger sign that means their health is being affected as if they were breathing cigarette smoke. Wood smoke is especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people with lung and heart disease."

- Washington Department of Ecology (WA D.O.E.)

COMPOSITION

As with all types of smoke, wood smoke is composed of particles and gases. Researchers for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. E.P.A.) have estimated that wood smoke is twelve times as carcinogenic as cigarette smoke .[1]

Particulate Matter (P.M.)

The toxic particles in wood smoke are extremely small—tiny enough to enter weathertight homes even when doors and windows are closed. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (I.A.R.C.) has classified particulate matter as a Group 1 carcinogen - a substance known to be carcinogenic in human beings. Additionally, the particles in wood smoke serve as a mode of transport for the sticky and highly toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (P.A.H.s) that are produced whenever wood is set ablaze.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (P.A.H.s)

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Volatile Organic Compounds (V.O.C.s)

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CONNECTICUT'S WOOD SMOKE POLLUTION PROFILE

Regardless of how it is burned, wood is an extremely dirty fuel. The following charts illustrate the disproportionate contribution from residential wood burning to some of the most toxic pollutants in Connecticut's air: fine particulate matter (P.M.2.5), volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (P.A.H.s).

THE LAWS CONCERNING WOOD SMOKE POLLUTION IN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the state of Connecticut, the manner in which public health nuisances resulting from residential wood burning are addressed by public authorities is determined by their source, as shown in the table below.

REFERENCES

  1. Washington State. Department of Ecology. "Health Effects of Wood Smoke." August 2004. [https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gt2_ZLlex954uOvmsmlNb7iPwOMmp6Jt/view]