To the editor:
It’s that dreadful time of the year again. It’s getting colder and we turn on the heat.
The dreadful part in this is that some people choose to heat their home by burning wood. To save money they choose to ignore the fact that wood burning is one of the most polluting activities on Bainbridge Island. Wood burning is a very localized activity that pollutes our air the most, the air that Bainbridge Islanders breathe.
When the air reaches unsafe pollution levels the first thing that is banned by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is burning wood in fireplaces and stoves.
The health hazards of wood burning should not be ignored. It is my belief that many don’t realize how serious the health effects are. The fine particles of wood smoke can enter your bloodstream and cause breathing and heart problems even with short term exposure. At a minimum, wood smoke aggravates colds and can lead to pneumonia. Other health effects include asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke and premature death.
We on Bainbridge Island worry about the health of Puget Sound. The city banned the use of plastic shopping bags to reduce our trash output. The government bans smoking in public places so others don’t have to expose themselves to second hand smoke and their proven health hazards. Our drinking water is subject to rigorous testing to make sure it is safe to drink. Our air is being monitored for unsafe levels of pollutants. Thank the government for imposing a burn ban when needed.
Burning wood is a much localized source of pollution. It directly affects the people in the vicinity. Neighborhood pollution can quickly build up especially during stagnant air conditions.
Do the right thing, people: Stop ignoring the health hazards of wood smoke. Stop polluting our air. Stop harming your neighbors by jeopardizing their health for the sake of saving only your money.
I encourage the city of Bainbridge Island to take the lead and ban wood burning on our island.
Cheap, safe space heaters are available now that make the relative cost benefit of heating with wood negligible, especially if you add the cost of poor air quality and health impacts.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has programs in place to help low income residents replace their wood burning sources of heat. Please go to their website for more information, www.pscleanair.org.
Sunrise Bluff Lane