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It's OK to use fireplaces again

Original post made on Mar 3, 2009

The winter air pollution season is over, which means that Bay Area residents don't have to worry about running afoul of the law if they decide to brighten a dreary evening with a fire in the fireplace.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 2, 2009, 5:10 PM

Comments (9)

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Posted by Shirley
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Something that worked as it should and now you reverse it?
Poor air quality and pollution is a serious problem that requires the cooperation and effort of everyone. Just one important contributor to air pollution is often ignored. Residential wood burning produces fine particles and gases that contain a multitude of toxic substances and carcinogens.
Wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco smoke and contains 12 times the amount of carcinogens and is more likely to cause cancer than the same amount of tobacco smoke, according to J. Lewtas-USEPA.

Fireplaces are ineffective in heating a home, and only a few hours of wood burning in a single home can drastically raise fine particle concentrations in dozens of surrounding homes throughout the neighbourhood. None of us are protected from this toxic smoke.
Burning wood and allowing it to foul the air of your neighbors is a rude and unnecessary assault on their senses. It causes many people, especially the young, the elderly and those with respiratory problems to be put in great physical danger.

I’ve had people tell me that they believe wood burning is safe as our forefathers heated that way. My response to them is that our forefathers had no other options. Also, many of them died at a very early age of ‘undetermined’ causes. Today, we know that some of those premature deaths most likely were from inhaling particulate matter, leading to various conditions that can result in death.
Burning wood is a costly and filthy affront to all that are invaded by it. Exposure to the smoke is extremely uncomfortable and causes burning eyes, dry and sore throat, irritation of the nasal passages, cardiovascular system damage, causes some types of cancer and brain damage, headaches, and allergic reactions, among other symptoms.
When smoke is prevalent in the area, people cannot open their windows for fresh air, because there is none. They cannot enjoy their own property due to the stench. Everyone should be able to relax in their own homes without the fear that they are being contaminated by toxic smoke. It is an environmental right of all people.
I think it is high time that all municipalities give some thought to banning all wood burning in residential areas. Some have already begun to do just that! I fail to see how the public interest is served by permitting the unnecessary fouling of the air we all have the need to breathe.
If laws were in place to ban wood burning the world would be a healthier place for all of us!
For more information, please go to and

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Posted by smokelessinvancouver
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm

When are people and politicians going to wake and realize that residential wood burning from
fireplaces and stoves is a grave health hazard that poisons all of us.
It is a threat to our health, well-being and environment.

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Now I know what happened to all the indians--darn that wood smoke! I'm sorry, but I grew up (50s-60s) in a rural Sierra Nevada community where everyone either heated with fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. They worked great (and it was colder there), and smelled even better.
Drive your car to the mall, polluting my air all the way, and then tell me that my fireplace is killing you---not!

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Posted by fired up
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

How did you like your PG&E heating bill this winter? Gas, electric staggering even as we put another Yule log on the fire.
Price of oil/gas goin' down, PG&E profits soaring.
How else can we Stone Age slaves to corporate utility profits survive?

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Posted by smoklessinvancouver
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Do the research and then maybe you will take your blinders off. Banning residential wood smoke is the only way.

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Posted by vancouver has cheap energy
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Vancouver gets cheap Canadian gas from Alberta, so their heating costs are of no consequence.
We, locals, on the other hand, are at the mercy of PG&E and their profit enhancing rate setting.
Throw another log on the fire and turn down the thermostat friends.

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Posted by Natasha
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 5, 2009 at 10:46 am

I think the point is to be mindful of the weather conditions and not to burn garbage, just aged hardwood. If the weather is cold and foggy and still, the smoke isn't going to dissipate.

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Posted by decon 69
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2009 at 2:18 am

all i ask was how do you tell good hardwood from bad

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Posted by S.T. Bear
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:58 am

Dry and aged, rather than moist and sappy, is the key to good firewood. Hard wood, like oak or madrone, produces less smoke than softer woods, like pine.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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