Our Children Are Smoking…Wood Smoke

BY ON June 8, 2011

This guest post was written by Julie Mellum, Founder of Take Back the Air.

When Joe Camel ads pitched cigarettes to children, parents and Fire creating wood smokehealth officials rebelled and put a stop to it. But who will stop children from breathing secondhand wood smoke? It is everywhere these days. Compared to tobacco smoke, it is far more concentrated and far more pervasive. And it contains legions of the same deadly toxins, such as lead, arsenic, mercury, formaldehyde, and other cancer-causing chemicals, that remain in the body up to 40 hours longer. Though wood smoke stresses everyone’s immune system, children are among the most vulnerable.

Wood smoke’s asphyxiating presence is readily detectable in most cities nation-wide, in all seasons and at all times of day. Its caustic fumes enter our lungs and all major body systems in less than one minute, forcing us all to “smoke” without our permission. With smaller and still developing lungs, it is no coincidence that asthma in children is skyrocketing out of control.

With wood smoke’s army of toxicants ever on the march, how can we “kick the burning habit?” We must stop recreational burning and switch indoor and outdoor fireplaces to gas or electric. Moratoriums should be placed on any new wood burning permits in restaurants. We must educate neighbors, teachers, politicians and decision-makers so that this top polluter be recognized and recognized for what it is. Many west coast cities are running frequent newspaper articles on the dangers of wood smoke inhalation. We must demand that recreational burning be regulated and nuisance ordinances upheld, so that children and others can breathe free in public spaces and in their own yards.

Moms and grandmothers must roll up our sleeves and not wait another day to stop our children from breathing toxic air in all its forms.

For more information, contact info@takebacktheair.com
Photo Credit: ehow.co.uk

TOPICS: Activism, Pollution

  • harleyrider1978

    I have just run across some information that has totally changed my mind. It has been verified through several sources. I’m sure it will change yours too after you read it.

    “* Contributes to health problems from inhaling particulate matter or ingesting harmful chemicals.
    * Spews hazardous chemicals ….Acetone, Benzene, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Toluene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene and Lead.

    there are at least 4 cancer-causing chemicals associated with ….. The EPA lists these chemicals on their website:
    1) Benzene (EPA classification as Group A, known human carcinogen).
    2) Carbon Tetrachloride (EPA classification as Group B2 probable human carcinogen).
    3) Trichloroethane (EPA classification as Group C, possible human carcinogen).
    4) Toluene (EPA classification as Group B2 probable human carcinogen).”


    That scares the heck out of me! I will never again visit a place that allows this out of fear for my health!

    Smoking is dangerous…. Oops! Sorry.. My bad…

    That article is all about burning paraffin based candles, not smoking!

    BAN THE CANDLE!!!!!!

  • harleyrider1978

    If you’re afraid of second-hand smoke, you should also avoid cars, restaurants…and don’t even think of barbecuing.

    here are just some of the chemicals present in tobacco smoke and what else contains them:

    Arsenic, Benzine, Formaldehyde.

    Arsenic- 8 glasses of water = 200 cigarettes worth of arsenic

    Benzine- Grilling of one burger = 250 cigarettes

    Formaldehyde – cooking a vegetarian meal = 100 cigarettes

    And so on. You can stay at home all day long if you don’t want all those “deadly” chemicals around you, but in fact, those alleged 4000 chemicals in cigarettes are present in many foods, paints etc. in much larger quantities. And as they are present in cigarettes in very small doses, they are harmless. Sorry, no matter how much you like the notion of harmful ETS, it’s a myth.

  • Ella Robbins

    What’s your stand on sippy cups?


    I gotta assume the author disinfects doorknobs on an hourly basis, too. I might point out that whole populations of Native Americans have been wiped out by exposure to White Man germs. The whole scientific basis for innoculation and allergy shots is controlled exposure. Why not just put your kid in a hermetically sealed bubble and throw away the key?

    I once read something that quoted a psychiatrist as saying that neurosis was an illness confined to the well-off. He stated that people struggling just to survive are too busy feeding their bellies to have the wherewithal to also feed their neuroses…

  • harleyrider1978

    Your PSYCHOSIS has been studied and found non-harmful and you can seek treatment!

    Toxicol Rev. 2003;22(4):235-46.

    Idiopathic environmental intolerance: Part 1: A causation analysis applying Bradford Hill’s criteria to the toxicogenic theory.

    Staudenmayer H, Binkley KE, Leznoff A, Phillips S.


    Behavioral Medicine, Multi-Disciplinary Toxicology, Treatment and Research Center, Denver, Colorado 80222, USA. hstaudenmayer@comcast.net


    Idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI) is a descriptor for a phenomenon that has many names including environmental illness, multiple chemical sensitivity and chemical intolerance. Toxicogenic and psychogenic theories have been proposed to explain IEI. This paper presents a causality analysis of the toxicogenic theory using Bradford Hill’s nine criteria (strength, consistency, specificity, temporality, biological gradient, biological plausibility, coherence, experimental intervention and analogy) and an additional criteria (reversibility) and reviews critically the scientific literature on the topic. The results of this analysis indicate that the toxicogenic theory fails all of these criteria. There is no convincing evidence to support the fundamental postulate that IEI has a toxic aetiology; the hypothesised biological processes and mechanisms are implausible.

  • Julie Mellum is right ! Thank you EDF for posting this. What is worse than a power plant nearby? 600 old stoves each putting out out more pollution than a power plant. Really. The EPA modeled the 3 hr ave pm for a stove heating a house at 180 mcg/m3 pm2.5. The CDC says woodmoke pm is about 4 times more toxic than ambiant pm from oil and gas combustion and powerplant pollution with the air toxics burned of from high temps. That means the pm from wood smoke is about equal to 720 mcg/m3 pm and it can cause heart attacks and asthma attacks in about 1/2 hr in some sensitives. This violates the pm std expressed as a dose in about an hour or less. And if you are next to someone choking the damper in an extreme manner the pollution can be 100 times worse than this per ALA . Outdoor wood bioilers have been monitored at 2,000 mcg/m3 for a few minutes but extreme stove choking can cause 5,000 mcg/m3 pm for 4 hours or more and this will make you come out fighting.

    Wood smoke is also the mother lode for mercury with L.A. emitting four times as much mercury from just fireplaces as 4 power plants burning coal. It has made most of the fish in the oceans dangerous to eat without carefully calculating the dose of mercury you are getting every week.

    The Moody Blues got it right. “We’ll spoil the seas with the rivers we’ve lost” and we’ll destroy the climate with the carbon black soot from our wood burning.

  • It seems to me that some of the above comments are from people who have never been exposed to wood smoke that invades their homes and properties. Until they have or until they choose to do some research they will never understand how wood smoke can do so much harm.
    It is not a ‘psychosis’ as hinted at in an above message. To even suggest that is to show a lack of common sense. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is literally FORCED to breathe wood smoke day in and day out and then try to convince people that it is a psychological problem.
    Maybe a short way of finding out what it is like is to light a fire in your fireplace, cover the chimney and go relax in front of the TV.
    Wood smoke has caused more harm to more people than you can imagine. I hear from them daily and it is sickening to hear how they are suffering.

  • Wood Smoke: the other Secondhand Smoke
    Everything that we know about tobacco smoke is also true of wood smoke. Our children’s health will not be improved until we restrict all forms of wood burning, because it is so toxic to children’s small, still developing lungs. And toxic to all of us. Wood smoke, in contrast to coal burning, occurs close to where we live and breathe, moreso than coal burning. Restaurants are increasingly burning wood, and outdoor permanent fireplaces are becoming a routine part of new homes. When will this wood burning craze stop? Only when we join forces to spead the word and demand that our cities and nation tightens up wood smoke regulation. Contact info@takebacktheair.com to connect with others in your area who are fighting wood smoke pollution.