Wood Smoke Stories

I cough and wheeze all the time

I'm a long-term severe environmental asthma/COPD sufferer (no allergies, never smoked cigs.). I have a hard time. I attribute my illness to living (abroad) for several years in a street full of ardent wood-burners, esp. a huge high-tech one right next-door. Made me very ill and despite moving back to UK and lots of meds, etc. I have not recovered.

I cough and wheeze all the time and my life is very quiet now — away from places and people — even loved ones who don’t understand why I can't make long visits and go places with them. My sore lungs/sinuses are badly irritated now by diesel too (of course), scented products, farm slurry, VOCs — and lots more — but, for me, smoke is the worst. It could kill me so I lead a quiet life (15 years on a nebuliser).

But I have a very dear husband so that’s just as well and I count my blessings daily. I don't want countless others to get sick in this way — our lungs are so important. If you can’t breathe you can’t do much else, you can’t help others, you can’t have fun, you can’t make a contribution to daily life, you can’t work very often either (I lost my career because of this).

But, as you know, sick lungs don’t show and there are people out there who just don’t accept what we are saying, and pleading, about the noxious effects of wood smoke. They need to be educated — because even these new high-tech wood stoves & burners are just going to make the air worse. Far worse. And, here in UK, wood burning (esp. biomass) has become political. There are some at top levels who are actively promoting wood burning which makes me worried, sad and upset. I know from personal experience how bad it can get, when your lungs are ruined.

All this wood burning is a bad mistake, a step backwards. Even when you can’t see the smoke it still hangs in the air and it gets into our homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals, etc. There is no way that wood smoke, of any kind, in any amount, is either “clean” or “pure.” Wood smoke is a Class A Carcinogen (W.H.O.) and it induces asthma and bronchitis. I’ve heard that it may also exacerbate heart disease and diabetes. Just as we were (wrongly) told that diesel cars were worth getting, we are now being told to buy wood stoves. Don’t, you will regret it. They’re not economic either & they will make you ill.

Here in UK at least (and rest of Europe?) no one checks what anyone is burning. We’re on our own here. To my mind, having to inhale someone else’s wood smoke is just like passive cigarette smoking. It is NOT my choice. Unlike the person burning the wood, I don’t have a choice if I live in that street.

So I feel I have a responsibility to speak up, and that is why I’m joining you.

Chemical analysis
Senior veteran affected by smoke
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