Wood Smoke Stories

You Can See the Air in Winter

My neighborhood is terrible with wood smoke in the winter. You can see the smoke in the air in the winter. The whole area is covered in a white haze. There are 12 to 15 houses that use wood as their only heat source. I have one neighbor that burns a fire pit frequently in the summer. One neighbors’ stove is in their detached garage so they burn garbage too. Another neighbors’ smoke blows directly at my house. The stench in the neighborhood gets really bad.

I know there are a lot of health problems that are caused by wood smoke but most websites that mention these forget that people can be allergic to smoke too. I have allergies to smoke. My mother has a wood smoke allergy too but mine is worse then hers is. Wood smoke and cigarette smoke cause me to have allergic reactions. When I come in contact with either type of smoke I get headaches, sick to my stomach, feel like I am going to throw up, my eyes get dry, itchy, hurt, swollen, and feel like they have sand in them, my throat gets dry, scratchy, sore and sometimes I loose my voice. Even when I go to the store or out somewhere I can not stand or sit next to someone who uses a wood stove or smokes cigarettes because the smell on their clothes and hair gives me a headache and makes me sick to my stomach. I am that sensitive to it. I have seen an allergy specialist and they have confirmed that I am allergic to smoke. I was told by the specialist to avoid smoke at all times.

I am basically a prisoner in my own home from October to April because of all the wood burning. I cannot sit on my porch, do yard work, shovel snow in my driveway, walk my dogs, walk to my car, or  walk to my mailbox without having an allergic reaction. How is it ok for me to be miserable 75 percent of the year because of my neighbors? Everyone has the right to enjoy their own property but I do not have that right anymore because most of my neighbors have taken that away from me. How can anyone think it is ok to have allergic reactions 5 or 6 or more times a day every day.  

I have tried talking to my neighbors but since they all use wood as their only source of heat they don’t care. I have been told by most of them to move if I don't like it. It really makes me mad and upset because I have been in this neighborhood for way longer than any of them have. 20 to 25 years longer than they have. And when I moved here not one person burned wood. I have lived here over 30 years and this land has been in my family for over 150 years so moving is not an option. It started within the last ten years with people burning wood for heat. With the majority of it starting in the last 5 years.

The UN recommends that developed nations stop burning wood. Why aren’t we following the UN’s recommendation?  When there are so many alternatives to wood. Electric furnace, electric heat pump, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, etc can all be used for heat. Even gas and oil are less polluting and less health issue causing  than wood. The rest of our lives have been modernized; it is time our heat has too. The wood burning has to stop.

COPD With Certified Wood Stove
Foul Air in San Geronimo Valley
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