Part 2 of 2: 2010 April: Wood Smoke Activist April Newsletter

The dispersed nature of wood as a fuel source combined with its low
energy value means any sizable energy plant must burn a lot of wood. For
instance, the McNeil 50 megawatt biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont
would require roughly 32,500 acres of forest each year if running at
near full capacity and entirely on wood. Wood for the McNeil Plant is
trucked and even shipped on trains from as far away as Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Quebec and Maine.
Biomass proponents often suggest that wood [which can be gathered] as a
consequence of forest thinning to improve .forest health. (logging a
forest to improve health of a forest ecosystem is an oxymoron.) will
provide the fuel for plant operations. For instance, one of the
assumptions of Senator Tester’s Montana Forest Jobs bill is that thinned
forests will provide a ready source of biomass for energy production.
But in many cases, there are limits on the economic viability of
trucking wood any distance to a central energy plant. Again without huge
subsidies, this simply does not make economic sense. Biomass forest
harvesting is even worse for forest ecosystems than clearcutting.
Biomass energy tends to utilize the entire tree, including the bole,
crown, and branches. This robs a forest of nutrients, and disrupts
energy cycles.
Worse yet, such biomass removal ignores the important role of dead trees
to sustain the forest ecosystems. Dead trees are not a .wasted.
resource. They provide home and food for thousands of species, including
45% of all bird species in the Nation. Dead trees that fall to the
ground are used by insects, small mammals, amphibians and reptiles for
shelter and even potentially food. Dead trees that fall into streams are
important physical components of aquatic ecosystems and provide critical
habitat for many fish and other aquatic species. Removal of dead wood is
mining the forest. Keep in mind that logging activities are not benign.
Logging typically requires some kind of access, often roads which are a
major source of sedimentation in streams, and disrupt natural subsurface
water flow. Logging can disturb sensitive wildlife like grizzly bear and
even elk are known to abandon locations with active logging. Logging can
spread weeds. And finally since large amounts of forest carbon are
actually tied up in the soils, soil disturbance from logging is
especially damaging, often releasing substantial additional amounts of
carbon over and above what is released up a smoke stack.


A large-scale biomass plant (50 MW) uses close to a million gallons of
water a day for cooling. Most of that water is lost from the watershed
since approximately 85% is lost as steam. Water channeled back into a
river or stream typically has a pollution cost as well, including higher
water temperatures that negatively impact fisheries, especially trout.
Since cooling need is greatest in warm weather, removal of water from
rivers occurs just when flows are lowest, and fish are most susceptible
to temperature stress.
Since biomass energy is eligible for state renewable portfolio standards
(RPS), it has captured the bulk of funding intended to move the country
away from fossil fuels. For example, in Vermont, 90% of the RPS is from
.smokestack. sources—mostly biomass incineration. This pattern holds
throughout many other parts of the country. Biomass energy is thus
burning up funds that could and should be going into other energy
programs like energy conservation, solar and insulation of buildings.
Many of the climate bills now circulating in Congress, as well as
Montana Senator Jon Tester’s Montana Jobs and Wilderness bill target
public forests. Some of these proposals even include roadless lands and
proposed wilderness as a source for wood biomass. One federal study
suggests that 368 million tons of wood could be removed from our
national forests every year—of course this study did not include the
ecological costs that physical removal of this much would have on forest
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, which was quietly put into
the 2008 farm bill has so far given away more than a half billion
dollars in a matching payment program for businesses that cut and
collect biomass from national forests and Bureau of Land Management
lands. And according to a recent Washington Post story, the Obama
administration has already sent $23 million to biomass energy companies,
and is poised to send another half billion.
And it is not only federal forests that are in jeopardy. Many states are
eying their own state forests for biomass energy. For instance, Maine
recently unveiled a new plan known as the Great Maine Forest Initiative
which will pay timber companies to grow trees for biomass energy.

Ironically one of the main justifications for biomass energy is the
creation of jobs, yet the wood biomass rush is having unintended
consequences for other forest products industries. Companies that rely
upon surplus wood chips to produce fiberboard, cabinet makers, and
furniture are scrambling to find wood fiber for their products.
Considering that these industries are secondary producers of products,
the biomass rush could threaten more jobs than it may create.
Large scale wood biomass energy is neither green, nor truly economical.
It is also not ecologically sustainable and jeopardizes our forest
ecosystems. It is a distraction that funnels funds and attention away
from other more truly worthwhile energy options, in particular, the need
for a massive energy conservation program, and changes in our lifestyles
that will in the end provide truly green alternatives to coal and other
fossil fuels.
George Wuerthner is a wildlife biologist and a former Montana hunting
guide. His latest book is Plundering Appalachia.
Credit to—

 Air Pollution Killing Canadians, Economy
The Canadian Medical Association issued a warning Wednesday that Canada
has a serious home-grown pollution problem which is taking a toll on
Canadians’ health and the country’s economy.
Credit to: The Leader-Post (Regina)August 14, 2008
The Canadian Medical Association issued a warning Wednesday that
Canada has a serious home-grown pollution problem which is taking a toll
on Canadians’ health and the country’s economy.
"Doctors see the impact of air pollution on our patients every day in terms of
increased symptoms, medication use, emergency room visits, hospitalization
and premature deaths,” said CMA President Dr. Brian Day in a
A new CMA report forecasts that this year alone as many as 21,000
Canadians — including 70 in Saskatchewan — will die prematurely from the
effects of air pollution.
Nationally the economic costs of air pollution in terms of lost productivity,
health-care costs and loss of life and quality of life will top $8 billion this
year. In Saskatchewan, that number is more than $200 million.
The Saskatchewan Lung Association said the report confirms what it has
been saying for years: There is a need for concrete action to deal with
Canada’s air pollution problems.
"One of the things we have got to get away from in Saskatchewan is that too
many people think, ‘That’s a problem in Eastern Canada or that’s a problem
in big cities,’ " said association CEO Brian Graham. "Well, Saskatchewan
doesn’t have pristine air quality anymore.”
While air quality here may be better than in other jurisdictions, Graham
warned the situation will worsen if the province doesn’t do something to
address existing air quality issues now.
The national and provincial lung associations have been working with the
federal and provincial governments on a national lung health framework that
lays out action plans for lung disease that would address air pollution in
particular, he said.
"We really need to see an increase in political will and an increase in public
attitudes toward the recognition that we need clean air,” Graham added.

The CMA’s report, entitled "No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of
Air Pollution," shows the effects of poor air quality across the country based
on the concentrations of two highly predictive pollutants — ozone and
particulate matter — on four distinct age groups of Canadians.
Air pollution affects a person’s heart, lungs, and nervous system as well as
the walls of the arteries and the body’s clotting system, according to biologic
It is the people with lung disease — the 100,000 people in Saskatchewan
with asthma and the 35,000 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease —
who are the most susceptible to pollutants in the air, Graham said.
In 2008, the report said, 415 Saskatchewan people will be hospitalized and
some 1,700 will visit emergency rooms as a result of exposure to air
pollutants. The report also predicts poor air quality will be responsible for
more than 474,000 minor illnesses and some 17,442 visits to family doctors.
The impact will continue to grow as Canada’s and Saskatchewan’s
population grows and ages, the report says. By 2031, almost 90,000
Canadians — more than 100 in Saskatchewan — will have died from the
acute effects of air pollution. The number of deaths due to long-term
exposure to air pollution will be 710,000 nationally — equal to the
population of Quebec City — and the economic costs will have accumulated
to more than $250 billion.
Between 2008 and 2031 a total of 2,055 Saskatchewan people will have died
prematurely from the affects of air pollution and the accumulated cost to the
provincial economy will have grown to a total of $5.7 billion, the study said.
While the report paints a grim picture on the state of Canada’s air quality,
Day said, it also shows the need for more research and study.
"This work is critical because with an issue like air pollution it is all too easy
for us to throw up our hands and say, ‘There is nothing we can do about it.’
‘No Breathing Room’ gives us 90,000 reasons why we must,” he said.


BOZO of the Month
This month’s Bozo is London, Ontario Canada
London, Ontario being a quite modern, heavily populated area
is another area from which I receive emails from people having
problems with residential burning and the ensuing smoke that
causes them great health problems.
Many have contacted their councilors and mayor but have
received the usual response….„this is a civil matter..
The city boasts that it is “Canada’s 10th largest centre, London
is the regional hub for Southwestern Ontario and a great place
to live, work, play and visit”. But, apparently NOT a good
place to live when you have wood burning neighbours!
It is time for London to go green and ban residential burning
of any kind. One cannot be proud of a city that cares little
about their residents who are inundated with wood smoke and
can find no help for this horrific situation.
Come on, London, do the right thing!

April … our thoughts turn to the warm weather ahead!
And yet, the burning continues. Many that continue to burn simply
wish to continue their fascination of the flame! At this time of
year, much of the wood being burned is wet and mushy causing even
more smoke that invades our homes and properties. It is a stench
that one cannot get rid of. It irritates the eyes, the throat and
causes many health symptoms that simply cannot be eased by any
means. There is no opening of windows to let in the first sweet
welcoming smells of warming breezes. To do this would let in the
noxious stench of wood smoke.
What is wrong with our municipalities that they allow our freedom
to breathe fresh air to be taken from us by those that think their
‘right to burn’ is more important to them than the damage they are
doing to their neighbors and to the environment? Why do burners,
who are in the minority, have more rights than us? This is ludicrous!
Let us hope that one day soon there will be total bans on residential
burning and that our ability to enjoy the homes we treasure will be
restored to us.

(Names are omitted)
I live in PA, USA and I am being forced out of my home. My neighbor is
using an indoor wood stove outdoors and the township won’t do anything
about it. My son has asthma and it is much worse now, we even had to take
him to the ER. My neighbors smoke stack is level with my basement door. I
am very depressed and can’t seem to sell my house.
It started last year when our neighbor replaced their woodstove by
themselves. We also have an 8 yr old and 20 month old. Same story, the city
cannot help, the region of health cannot help. We are stuck and I don’t think
we can live like this for 3 to 4 yrs like some of the stories I have read. If
there is any help please let us know. Brampton, Ontario. On a beautiful day
+3 and my wife and daughter could not even go outside to play. It’s hard to
believe in this “GREEN AGE” nothing can be done.
I found your newsletter online while researching how to deal with my wood
smoke problem.
A neighbour of mine in Toronto burns a wood stove (his only means of
heat!) 24/7. His wood is wet, and the amount of smoke in our
neighbourhood is unreal. He loads up the stove several times per day and
chokes off the air-intake to make the heat last for hours. As a result,
everything just smolders and produces an incredible amount of smoke.
My house is about 200 feet away, and I sometimes get smoke inside even
with all the doors and windows closed. I can tell the air is polluted inside
my home now that heating season has started.
This is ridiculous, especially in Toronto. Everyone else here is on natural
Please help – I need to find out what recourse I have in dealing with this.
What steps should I take to try and fix this situation?
I’m scared of being exposed to this health hazard, but no one else on my
block wants any confrontation with this guy. This is no way to live.

Wood Smoke and Global Warming
Why burning wood and other biofuels is not “green” or “carbon neutral”
1. “Black carbon, a form of particulate air pollution produced from biomass
burning, cooking with solid fuels and diesel exhaust, has a warming effect in
the atmosphere three to four times greater than prevailing estimates.”
(.Black Carbon Pollution Emerges as a Major Player in Global Warming,. Nature
Geoscience, March 23, 2008).
2. “Soot and other forms of black carbon could have as much as 60 percent
of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide.” (Science Daily,
3/24/08, V. Ramanathan, atmospheric scientist at Scripps Institution of
Oceanography,UC San Diego & University of Iowa chemical engineer Greg
3. NASA satellite studies found that “cloud cover decreased from about 40
percent during the 2002 burning season in South America’s Amazon River
basin in clean air conditions to zero in smoky air.”
4. “Per capita emissions from black carbon from the United States and some
European countries are still comparable to those from south Asia and east
Asia,” even though between 25 and 35 percent of black carbon in the global
atmosphere comes from China and India, from the burning of wood and cow
dung in household cooking and the use of coal to heat homes. (V. Rama-
nathan, scientist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego,)
5. Tiny airborne particles are a major cause of climate change, according to
Dr. Ian Koren, Science News (Weekly Magazine of The Society for Science
and the Public,) July 2006. They have a “duality effect on clouds. As total
aerosols increase, cloud cover increases; and as radiation absorption by
aerosols increases, cloud cover decreases.”
We need to get the media and policymakers to discriminate between
combustion technologies and real renewable energy. Waterpower, solar,
wind, fuel cell energy, geothermal (not geothermal heat pumps, but tapping
natural steam pockets below the earth’s surface), hydrogen, and some
contained biomass operations that use biochemical (bacteria-driven) processes
to generate fuels that burn as cleanly as natural gas. True “clean energy”
must exclude biomass combustion.

Teaming Up With Others: Strength In Numbers
Like tobacco smoke, wood smoke can be banned or regulated in cities or states. Our
national elected officials also need to hear from us. Please contact any of the names
below–you do not have to live in their area to build our network. Nor do you have
to leave your name if you prefer not to. But we all need to build a network for
strength in numbers.
Here is a partial list of contacts who are working on wood smoke issues from
various states and regions. Please click here to email me if you are willing to have
your email address or other information published in this newsletter monthly to
connect with others.
Web site:
Victoria Valentine
Web site:
New York,
Julie Mellum
Web site:
Vic Steblin
Prince George, British Columbia,
Short Letters about Air Quality are
listed in OPINION section of
Vicki Morell
 "A breath of fresh air – for all generations"
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Julie Burgo
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ernest Grolimund
19 Johnson Hts.,
Waterville, Maine USA 04901
Giulia D’Alesio
Notre-Dame-De-L’ile Perrot
Quebec, Canada
Phone and fax (514) 425-5288
Janet Irvine
Nanaimo, B.C.
 Linda Beaudin
Cornwall, Ontario
Nathalie Doiron
Quebec, Canada
 Cathy Baiton
Alberta, Canada
All burning results in very fine micro particulates and there is no safe level of this
asbestos sized, dangerous air pollutant. Solid fuels, such as pellets and especially wood,
produce more smoke and emit more fine particulate air pollutants than cleaner fuels such
as gas and electricity.

Canadian Clean Air Alliance
 A totally new Canadian site that deals with wood smoke pollution.
Mission Statement
Our mission is to educate public officials, government and all citizens
about wood smoke as a major form of hazardous air pollution that
affects our health, use of our property, water, crops, livestock, the
environment and climate change. We urge citizens everywhere to press
for legislative changes to call wood smoke a public nuisance under state
health codes and to ban all wood burning.”
“Breathing wood smoke is smoking!”
We are looking to include every province in Canada.
Please email to Shirley to start a provincial page for your province.

Photos and Videos
Just a few photos to show to your public officials and others you want to convince
that only a ban on smoke release will change this!
Click here for videos
Click here for a video from Chase, B.C.
To see some photos that victims of wood smoke have sent click here
To have your own listed, send an email to:
C:UsersShirleyDocumentsNews LettersPhotos to publishclive_logo.gif
Take Back The Air
Click here for a heart-breaking story & video of a family subjected to wood smoke.
Click here to see Clive Stott.s peaceful, but meaningful protest of forestry burning
in Australia.
Editor’s Site

Freedom of

If your health has been affected by exposure to chromated copper arsenate
(CCA) pressure treated wood, please visit: Please visit us here! Quebec Association for clean air –French & English
Please take a minute to sign the petition there. Residents against wood smoke emission particulates A blog dedicated to shaming the Launceston City
Council and Tasmanian State Government to start enforcing wood smoke legislation in
“Burning 2 cords of wood produces the same amount of mutagenic (capable of
causing cell mutations that can cause cancer) particles as driving 13 gasoline-
powered cars 10,000 miles each at 20 miles/gallon. These figures indicate that
the worst contribution that an individual is likely to make to the mutagenicity of
the air is using a wood stove for heating, followed by a diesel car.” (Dr. Joellen
Lewtas, Contribution of Source Emissions of the Mutagenicity of Ambient Urban
Air Particles. U.S., EPA, #91-131.6, 1991)

Canadian Action Activities
Wood smoke is a major problem in all of America and Canada.
National efforts are gaining momentum. Regardless of where we live,
our actions should focus on getting our national governments to
regulate wood smoke. To make an impact, if each reader calls or emails
each of these contacts, we can move mountains.
Go for it now!
Health Canada assesses scientific evidence about the health effects of wood smoke
and makes this information available to Canadians. Health Canada is also working
with other government departments to determine the best ways to minimize risks
associated with wood smoke.
In addition, Health Canada is a contributor to the Burn it Smart! Campaign
sponsored by Natural Resources Canada.
Environment Canada:
Health Canada:
Air Health Effects Division, Safe Environments Program, Health Canada
400 Cooper Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9 Telephone: (613) 957-1876
Natural Resources Canada Burn it Smart! Sir William Logan Building,
11th Floor, 580 Booth Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E4
Write or email to your local council & MPs to request that they create or amend a
bylaw to cover nuisance smoke. Preferably, a ban on all wood burning in residential
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has released the latest news on Smog
Click here for the Canadian Bill of Rights You can apply for a review here.

U.S. Action Activities
URGENT—Immediate Action Needed
A new EPA-certified wood stove promotion gives a 30% tax credit and a
huge discount to the public. It is being funded by stimulus money from
the US government. This flies in the face of the known hazards of wood
smoke that the EPA acknowledges on their website. If we don.t stop our
states. stimulus money from funding this major promotion, it will be
next to impossible to regulate or ban wood burning in any form.
If you have never protested wood smoke or called your public officials
before, this is the time to do it!
. Contact your US Senators and Representatives, as well as your state
Senators and Representatives and City Council members. Ask them
to see that the stimulus money does not go towards this promotion.
It is crucial to let your elected officials know that you don.t want the
stimulus money used for this promotion in your community—but
only to apply to gas or electric technology. (California has a change-
out program that only allows swap-outs to gas or electric.)

. Let them know that wood smoke is a major health hazard and is a
major contributor to global warming.

. Send an email to others and ask them for their help too. (See
suggested email below).

. Be sure to call your US legislators and State legislators and City
Council Members, to alert them to the problem and asking for their
help too in keeping new EPA certified wood burning equipment out
of your community, even if a state-wide promotion allows them.

. If we don.t stop this unthinkable promotion, there is little hope for a
healthy legacy for our children and grandchildren.


Action #1- Suggested message for calling and emailing U.S. legislators
and state legislators. Please also relay on to others and urge them to
contact others.
Dear (elected official):
Please use your influence to disallow stimulus money to be used for EPA
wood stove promotion in (your state and/or your community.)
According to the EPA.s own website, wood smoke is a killer responsible
for premature deaths nation-wide at a rate of 3% of the total deaths
every year from fine particle pollution. (Harvard School of Public
Health). That is close to 73,000 people in the U.S. each year–an
epidemic! Wood smoke is extremely hazardous for children, the elderly
and especially those with asthma. Asthma is already the number one
reason for school absenteeism. It is even implicated in sudden infant
death syndrome.
Our states are looking for ways to limit fine particulate pollution and
better air quality. This should be a “no-brainer.” Wood smoke emits
over 9,600 % more lead than natural gas, according to the EPA.s own
data. It also emits arsenic, mercury, formaldehyde, polyaromatic
hydrocarbons and dioxins, persistent organic compounds that do not
break down in the environment or in human lungs, crops, soil and water
supply. See for the facts.
Please do not allow stimulus money to be used for promoting more
(Sign your name and contact info)


About the Editor:
Shirley Brandie
Ontario Director of Canadian Clean Air
 She is retired from a medical laboratory
and currently doing in-depth research on
the effects of wood smoke on health and
the environment.
Web site:
If you would like to have your wood smoke story published, click here to
email it.
** We do not accept responsibility for errors in articles submitted for
publication. It is the responsibility of the author to ensure the facts are,
to the best of their knowledge, correct. **
Please pass this issue on to others in need of help. Send an email to to be added to the mailing list.

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