Fall Away From Wood Burning

By: Mollie Simon

RoastingMarshmallowThe nights are getting cooler, we’re making the switch from shorts to pants, and we are starting to remember our jackets before we leave the house. But unfortunately, with the beautiful colors of fall landscapes also comes dangerous wood smoke pollution for many neighborhoods across the state. How do you prepare yourself for the start of a long winter with wood burning nearby?

Wood burning and open fires conjure up memories of fun fall nights but we know that the unseen pollution and health risks are great. According to Environment and Human Health Inc. homes nearly three football fields away (850 feet) from an outdoor wood-fired boilers had six times the level of particulates as control homes. Even the smallest outdoor wood-fired boiler has the potential to emit almost one and one-half tons of particulate matter every year. Particulate matter is one of the greatest air pollution threats to health and is the pollutant most closely associated with deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that particulate matter worldwide is estimated to cause about 16% of lung cancer deaths, 11% of COPD deaths, and more than 20% of ischemic heart disease and stroke.map app

I See Smoke published a guide for how to talk to neighbors about what can sometimes be a difficult topic. Spreading information about the very real health impacts of wood burning is the strongest way to motivate someone to make better heating choices. The guide offers suggestions for how to start these conversations and how to present information in a respectful and strong manner.

Sometimes talking is not enough. I See Smoke also has an application you can use to report wood burning to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and to local health agencies. These are good options if communication is not getting through to the wood burner. It is also important to report burning to your local authorities in order to flag this as a priority issue for your township.

Through education, we can help spread the word that you do not have to have a fire in order to have a cozy fall or winter day. Burning wood threatens the health of your family and your neighbors. This fall, avoid burning wood and encourage your neighbors and family to do the same.

I See Smoke Releases Our First Wood Smoke Action Guide

By: Mollie Simon

WoWood smoke neighbor guide coverod smoke pollution is a problem facing residential communities across the country. But sometimes our concerns about a possible confrontation prevent us from taking that first step to initiate a conversation with a neighbor whose smoke is affecting us. Clean Air Council’s I See Smoke program was asked by residents to create a guide to help those impacted by wood smoke through the process of talking to our neighbors and illustrate how to take next steps if the problem continues.

You can view the guide here. Included in the guide are tips on how to begin the conversation, guidelines for how to approach your neighbor, information on how to take action when discussion isn’t working, fact sheets, and more.

 

Here are some of the biggest take aways:

  • Make a connection to your neighbor before bringing up the problem. People are much more likely to listen to a friend than an aloof neighbor. Even though you may be angry, try to put that aside and start the conversation off on a positive note.
  • Share your personal story—it may not have even crossed your neighbors mind that this is a big problem for you. Calmly explain how wood smoke is impacting your family’s health.
  • Have the facts and share them. Wood smoke pollution is not a well-known danger. By sharing the I See Smoke fact sheets, you can help illustrate some of the biggest negative health impacts of burning wood.
  • Be empathetic. Just as you want your neighbor to understand your perspective on wood smoke; it is important to take the time to listen to their concerns. We know that low costs or convenience should not trump health and safety, but it is important to know that wood burning could be seen by the neighbor as cost-effective option.

Starting the conversation is not always easy but sometimes taking time to sit down and calmly explain the problem to your neighbor can have a big difference. If you are dealing with a wood burning neighbor and need assistance, please feel free to reach out to I See Smoke PA.

Connect with us!

Website: ISeeSmokePA.org
Mapping app: wikimapping.net/wikimap/smoke.html
Facebook: Facebook.com/ISeeSmokePA
Twitter: @ISeeSmokePA
Email: Mollie Simon at msimon@cleanair.org
Phone: 215-567-4004 ext: 128