Let’s douse wood fire pits

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Dear Editor,

It is time to eliminate backyard wood fire pits in favour of smokeless propane fire bowls.

A wood fire next door is like having 30 or more people smoking cigarettes continuously for several hours in my backyard. Should I or anyone else in the city be expected to tolerate this secondhand smoke? I would answer resoundingly, no.

Those who believe wood smoke is natural and harmless are sadly mistaken because research has shown it to cause short-term and long-term health problems. Tobacco is also a natural product and its secondhand smoke is now banned in all public spaces.

The list of studies documenting the health effects of wood smoke is extensive but has not yet gained the notoriety as with tobacco smoke. Let’s not forget the latter was a long-fought battle because of the reluctance for change, and the need for public education and bold political action.

Some highlights from this extensive research are the following:

• The Canadian Lung Association does not recommend wood fires in residential areas.

• Washington State’s Department of Ecology describes in simple terms how tiny wood smoke particles enter your lungs to cause disease and structural damage.

• Families for Clean Air, an American non-profit group, with more than 100 sourced research papers concludes wood smoke contains the same toxins as diesel exhaust and tobacco smoke, and that the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke is actually greater than from a similar amount of cigarette smoke.

Therefore, I would ask our city politicians to be proactive in banning backyard wood fire pits in favour of smokeless propane fire bowls, which can be used anywhere and at anytime. This would be a win for everyone.

John Durbin

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