Wood Burning Neighbors say the Darndest Things - amusing excuses for creating health-hazardous pollution
Climate Partners Poster: "It’s worse than a scratchy throat. Greenhouse gases and airborne particulate matter taken into the lungs penetrate the body and can create serious illnesses and damage children’s developing lungs."

Health Professionals
The American Lung Association "strongly recommends using cleaner, less toxic sources of heat. Converting a wood-burning fireplace or stove to use either natural gas or propane will eliminate exposure to the dangerous toxins wood burning generates including dioxin, arsenic and formaldehyde” 
Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment   16 reasons to ban wood burning.

April 29, 2014 Dr. Kari Nadeau, Division of Pediatrics Immunology, Allergy, and Rheumatology and Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, talks about the health effects of wood smoke on children
With developing lungs and immune systems, children are highly susceptible to harm from the effects of wood smoke. In this podcast, Dr. Kari Nadeau, Division of Pediatrics Immunology, Allergy, and Rheumatology and Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, shares how wood smoke can affect a child's life, impair their abilities to participate in activities and lead to lung disease.

American Lung Association in California Cautions Against Wood-Burning and Urges Cleaner Alternatives for Winter Heat: the American Lung Association in California is urging the public to avoid wood burning and to consider cleaner burning alternatives.
     "Burning wood emits harmful toxins and fine particles into the air that can worsen asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
     "Breathing particle pollution – or soot –can shorten life and send those most at risk to the emergency room,” said Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, researcher and volunteer physician for the American Lung Association in California. “Wood smoke particles are so small, they can bypass the airway defenses and enter directly into the lung and bloodstream and can cause damage to cells, and lead to lung disease and heart attacks.”
    "As with any pollution, children are especially at risk. Their lungs do not fully form until the age of 18 and exposure to higher levels of wood smoke can lead to reduced lung function and risk of future lung disease. For children with asthma, breathing wood smoke can lead to serious asthma attacks and breathing emergencies."

Heating your home with wood is more dangerous than you likely realize by Dr. MICHAEL D. MEHTA, Professor, Geography & Environmental Studies, Thompson Rivers University. "IT MAY BE natural, but there’s nothing safe or environmentally sound about heating your home with wood or clearing debris and yard waste in a burn barrel or pile."

Media Reports: Cache Valley Daily (Oct 10)
Physicians Group: Woodsmoke Worse Than Cigarettes, Public News Service (Oct 10 )
Fox 13 News: Utah doctors call for year-round ban on burning wood
Physicians group targets fireplaces and fuel burning stoves.  Desert News, 1 Oct

Breathe Utah's Wood Smoke Abatement Program.
Breathe Utah has received a generous grant from UCAIR to help make a real and concrete improvement to air quality on the Wasatch Front by replacing wood burning sources of heat for cleaner alternatives.

Dr David Pepper: The impact of wood smoke on children, neighborhoods.  As a physician, I know all too well the health impacts caused by toxic smoke. Breathing these particles can literally shorten life and send our most vulnerable residents to the emergency room.  ....While some may not see it this way, in actuality it is the wood smoke, not the wood burning regulation, that is invasive. There are an estimated 935,000 residents in the Bay Area who suffer from asthma, including 200,000 children and an additional 300,000 who struggle to breathe from emphysema, lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. When these people have to breathe wood smoke pollution, they struggle even more.

Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment. The Health Consequences of Air Pollution

Biomass Monitor - Ten Things You Need to Know if You Burn Wood - Respiratory Problems - Carcinogenic - Toxic Chemicals - Worse Than Cigarettes - Exceeds Federal Standards - Smoke Enters Homes - EPA Stoves Not Much Better - Doctors Want Ban - Taxpayer Subsidized - Alternatives to Burning

News reports about problems from other people's woodsmoke
Tempers boil over boiler.  Lake County News Chronicle, 22 March 2013.
2011 Sept. 2: CT: Ten cases of harm from Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB or OWF) wood smoke from OWB-owning neighbors in Connecticut

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Sickness: Woodsmoke a Big NW Pollution Source    
TACOMA, Wash. — The warning label on the wrapping of neatly split firewood is one we’re more accustomed to seeing on cigarettes or heavy-duty chemicals: “known… to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.”   ....  In Tacoma and many towns across the Northwest, wood smoke is a prime culprit in driving spikes of sooty, toxic air pollution that leave some residents – particularly asthmatics, kids and the elderly – gasping for breath.

San Francisco Bay: winter Spare the Air ties record for number of alerts
Thirty percent of Bay Area residents indicated they are burning less wood even on days when an alert has not been issued, the district said. Surveys also indicated that 75 percent of Bay Area residents support the air district’s wood burning rule.
The air district said it received a total of 5,091 wood smoke complaints from residents. A total of 267 tickets were issued to residents who were observed to be in violation of the wood burning rule. Those found to be burning during a Winter Spare the Air Alert for the first time were given the option of taking an online or written wood smoke awareness course in lieu of paying a $100 ticket.
See also: 
Officials Say Dry Winter to Blame for Highest Number of 'Spare the Air' Days in Years.

Class action suit filed against ESRD  A class action has been filed on behalf of some residents of Bragg Creek against Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), claiming the smoke from wood burning in West Bragg Creek has caused a health hazard. ... “The fact is, they are logging and burning too close to a residential community,” said Docken. “It’s time for someone to be held accountable.”

British Columbia Government:  Scientists have recently discovered that the pollutants in wood smoke, notably particulate matter, are harmful to human health. In fact, wood smoke has become the most serious kind of air pollution in B.C., causing more illness and deaths than smog does.

Green Oversite Wood Smoke A Health Hazard

It's time to rip up gas networks.  Matthew Wright, former executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions, argues that modern highly efficient air conditioners and heat pumps are a much cleaner way to heat homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  See also why I have six air conditioners and the demise of gas in one chart.

One comment on the debate about wood stoves in Parksville, Canada, says: "I began to notice the smoke-filled neighbourhood. Costs were rising and my old bad back sent a "find another way" message. 
"For about $3,000 a heat pump was installed that easily warmed the area the wood stove once heated. And the cost is only about $10-$15 per month over previous hydro bills. So I figure to save about $600+ per year over firewood. Plus it's debris and dust free, very quiet and needs no chimney cleaning." 

New inhaler protects lungs against effects of air pollution. An inhaler that protects the lungs against air pollution has been developed by scientists and could help the many millions of people affected by toxic air to avoid its worst effects.
The inhaler delivers a molecule, first found in bacteria in the Egyptian desert, which stabilises water on the surface of the lung cells to form a protective layer. It is expected to be available as an inexpensive, over-the-counter product. 

Poor science leads to bad policies.  Despite strong evidence of severe health problems because of much greater PM2.5 emissions of diesels, European Governments offered incentives to encourage diesel cars in the mistaken belief that this would reduce greenhouse gas emission.  The abstract below of a peer-reviewed paper concludes that, as well as leading to alarming levels of air pollution, the policy actually increased global warming!
It is important to learn from such mistakes.  Similar promises have been made for wood heating, despite the advice of the UN Environment Program and World Meteorological that phasing out log-burning wood heaters in developed countries will both improve health and reduce global warming.  A more careful consideration of the facts indicates that policies increasing use of domestic wood stoves will result in substantial increases in pollution and also increase global warming.  


On the way to a more sustainable society, transport needs to be urgently optimized regarding energy consumption and pollution control. While in earlier decades, Europe followed automobile technology leaps initiated in the USA, it has decoupled itself for 20 years by focusing research capacity towards the diesel powertrain. The resulting technology shift has led to some 45 million extra diesel cars in Europe. Its outcome in terms of health and environmental effects will be investigated below.


Expected greenhouse gas savings initiated by the shift to diesel cars have been overestimated. Only about one tenth of overall energy efficiency improvements of passenger cars can be attributed to it. These minor savings are on the other hand overcompensated by a significant increase of supply chain CO2 emissions and extensive black carbon emissions of diesel cars without particulate filter. We conclude that the European diesel car boom did not cool down the atmosphere. Moreover, toxic NOx emissions of diesel cars have been underestimated up to 20-fold in officially announced data. The voluntary agreement signed in 1998 between the European Automobile industry and the European Commission envisaging to reduce CO2 emissions has been identified as elementary for the ensuing European diesel car boom. Four factors have been quantified in order to explain very different dieselization rates across Europe: impact of national car/supplier industry, ecological modernization, fuel tourism and corporatist political governance. By comparing the European diesel strategy to the Japanese petrol-hybrid avenue, it becomes clear that a different road would have both more effectively reduced CO2 emissions and pollutants.


Europe's car fleets have been persistently transformed from being petrol-driven to diesel-driven over the last 20 years. This paper investigates on how this came to be and why Europe took a distinct route as compared to other parts of the world. It also attempts to evaluate the outcome of stated goals of this transformation which was primarily a robust reduction in GHG emissions. We conclude that global warming has been negatively affected, and air pollution has become alarming in many European locations. More progressive development scenarios could have prevented these outcomes.

Diesel; Diesel car boom; Dieselization; NOx; CO2; PM; Soot; Black carbon; Global warming; Health effects; Voluntary agreement; Taxation; Emissions; Fuel

California  The Bay Area's Spare the Air Facebook Cover Page explains the problem 

Many Californian cities have ‘Spare the Air’ days; on windless days when use of woodheaters would lead to exceedences of the air quality standards, woodheating is not permitted.

Above graphic from the Breathe Utah website, where they advise:

Things You Can Do

  • Print out this quick Wood Burning info sheet to pass out to neighbors or others who are burning wood in the winter.
  • Don't burn wood during the winter if you live along the Wasatch Front.  Although it may feel cozy it is harming your health and the health of others.

  • If you must burn wood, check the current conditions on the Utah DAQ website to confirm there is NOT a mandatory wood burning restriction in place.
  • Report those who burn wood in violation of mandatory no burn restrictions.  You can fill out an online form at the DAQ website or call DAQ's stationary source complaints line at 801-536-4000.

  • If wood burning is your sole source of heat, contact Breathe Utah to find out about how to change to a healthier and cleaner heat source.  There are refunds and other financial incentives available that will help off set the initial cost. 
Graphic from a University of Utah study by K.E. Kelly, R. Kotchenruther, R. Kuprov, and G.D. Silcox in the sources of PM2.5 pollution in Utah, described in a Salt Lake Tribune article: Utah research says winter smog takes big hit from wood burning 

WHO: Burden of disease from ambient and household air pollution
      In new estimates released, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.  
3.7 million deaths attributable to ambient air pollution 4.3 million deaths attributable to household air pollution