Letters to the editor May 9, 2017

Burning wood more

than it appears


I was talking to this old guy at the Vets and he called Sweet Home “The Valley of Death.”

What? He said being in a valley with all the wood burning stoves, fireplaces was death to our lungs.

So I went looking to see about burning wood and I was shocked.

From the Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, found at /uphe.org/priority-issues/wood-burning/wood-burning-quick-facts/, here are 17 facts about wood burning:

1. All pollution is not created equal. Wood smoke is the most toxic type of pollution in most cities, more dangerous than auto pollution and most industrial pollution. Lighting a wood fire in your house is like starting up your own toxic incinerator.

2. Lifetime cancer risk is 12 times greater for wood smoke compared to an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke.

3. Burning 10 lbs. of wood for one hour, releases as much PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) as 6,000 packs of cigarettes.

4. Toxic free-radical chemicals in wood smoke are biologically active 40 times longer than the free radicals in cigarette smoke.

5. Wood smoke is the third largest source of dioxins, one of the most intensely toxic compounds known to science.

6. The very small size of wood particles make them seven times more likely to be inhaled than other particulate pollution.

7. Wood smoke easily penetrates homes of neighbors creating concentrations up to 88 percent as high as outdoor air.

8. If you smell wood smoke, you know you are being harmed. The sweet smell comes from deadly compounds like benzene.

9. The most dangerous components of air pollution are much higher inside homes that burn wood compared to those that don’t, as much as 500% higher.

10. Considering the most dangerous part of particulate pollution, wood burning produces as much overall as all our cars during the winter.

11. The inhalable particulate pollution from one wood stove is equivalent to the amount emitted from 3,000 gas furnaces producing the same amount of heat.

12. Emissions from modern combustion appliances for wood logs may increase ten-fold if they are not operated appropriately, and most of them are not.

13. Wood smoke is the only pollution emitted right where people spend most of their time. It disperses poorly, is not evenly distributed and stays in the air longer because of its small size. Concentrations can be 100 times higher for neighbors of wood burners than what is captured at the nearest monitoring station. Real local “pollution victims” are created even when overall community levels are low.

14. If your neighbor is a regular wood burner, and follows all the rules, i.e. doesn’t burn during yellow or red alert days, but does during all “green” days, you can go an entire winter without having one single day of clean air.

15. According to California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District, burning wood costs the rest of the community, primarily your next door neighbors, at least $2 in extra medical expenses for every lb of wood that you burn. An average fire then costs your neighbors about $40.

16. Wood burning is not even close to carbon neutral over the short term, the next few decades, and it is that time frame that will make or break the climate crisis. Burning wood is extremely inefficient. Per unit of heat created wood produces even more CO2 than the fossil fuels do. Furthermore, the black carbon particulate matter released enhances the absorption of radiant heat in the atmosphere.

And the American Lung Association agrees.

Diane Daiute

Sweet Home

Healthcare workers

deserve recognition


Each May, hospitals across the nation celebrate the collective efforts of nurses and other health care professionals by recognizing both National Nurses Day and National Hospital Week.

At Samaritan Health Services, we are proud to care for the communities we serve and highly value the more than 6,000 employees who enable us to achieve our health care mission of building healthier communities together.

Each of our employees plays an important role as part of our care team. Their efforts help make Samaritan Health Services a special place to work, and perhaps more importantly, a trusted health care provider.

We are pleased to take this opportunity to say thank you to our nurses and to all our health professionals for the exemplary work they do every day.

Larry A. Mullins


Samaritan Health Services