Recreational Fires Must Be Eliminated

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The air is smoky from burning wood in North St. Paul, MN, almost every evening. It is a nightmare. What used to be a nice place to live has become a living hell.

WARNING: If you buy a house in North St. Paul, MN, you will regret it! It may be the biggest, most expensive mistake you ever make. You will breathe smoky air almost every day of your life in this town. This is not an exaggeration. The wood smoke in this town gets heavy and gets heavy often. When you want to get out of this dump of a town, how many people do you think are going to want to buy a house in a city where heavy air pollution every night is normal and clean air is rare? This blog gets thousands of visitors every year. The word is out: North St. Paul is a horrible place to live!

Fresh air is very rare around here. If you are considering moving to North St. Paul or buying a home here, I strongly recommend that you do not do it no matter how good of a price you get. The only way you will be happy in this town is if you love breathing smoky air almost every day. North St. Paul, MN, is a horrible place to live because of the smoky air!

Burning wood, grass, leaves, paper, cardboard, and sometimes plastic, construction materials, and chemicals, if it is combustible it gets burned in North St. Paul and you are going to breathe it.

The air was smoky 25 out of 31 evenings in July 2009. We had 37 hours of continuous wood smoke in the air Aug. 29th - 31st. There was wood smoke in the air 19 consecutive evenings from Aug. 21st to Sept. 8th. It rained heavily on Aug. 20th, providing the only relief we got from wood smoke for almost three weeks.

Is this a good way to live? No. It is a horrible way to live. Take it from someone who knows. Breathing smoky, polluted air every day is misery.

Every day in this city several people are having recreational fires. Every evening the air is filled with the stench of burning wood. I am one person sick and tired of breathing smoky air every day. Is it too much to ask to be able to breathe fresh air in your own home?

Who is responsible for this wood smoke nightmare? The four city council members are responsible. Council members Jan Walczak, Bob Bruton, Terry Furlong, and Dave Zick have refused to do anything about this wood smoke problem. They don't care if you have a child with asthma. They don't care if you have to live like a shut-in because the air is so polluted. They don't care if your sinuses burn because the wood smoke is so heavy.

Our four Council members have defended the rights of a small percentage of households to burn wood daily over the rights of all the rest of us to breathe.

You have no right to breathe under Walczak, Bruton, Furlong, and Zick. Burners have the right to burn wood 49 hours a week recreationally. The rest of us have no rights at all.

If you are considering purchasing real estate in the city of North Saint Paul, Minnesota (55109), factor this blog carefully into your decision. Buying a home in this city means that your kids will breathe smoky air while playing in the yard almost every day. Your baby will breathe smoky air in her crib should you leave the windows open around your house. If you leave your windows open you will wake up in the middle of the night choking on smoky air.

Perhaps worst of all, your utility rates will be high because you will have to run the air conditioner instead of leaving the windows open on a cool summer evening. You have no other choice because almost every night the air is too smoky to breathe in this city. Consider this blog your warning.

North St. Paul, Minnesota, is a wonderful community other than the wood smoke. If we could restore fresh air like we used to enjoy, life would be happy again. But that is not going to happen any time soon.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Health Hazards Of Wood Smoke Pollution

Here is a page from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website about wood smoke. Have a look.
Wood smoke contains toxics and harmful microscopic particles.
Health effects of wood smoke.
Burning wood adds harmful fine particles and toxics to the air. “The fine particles (or particulate matter (PM)) in wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks in a manner similar to diesel exhaust or secondhand cigarette smoke,” said Laura Oatman, environmental research scientist from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “Wood smoke contains harmful chemical substances such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dioxin, and inhalable particulate matter (PM). Some of the VOCs are irritating, toxic, and/or cancer causing. One of the biggest human health threats from smoke, indoors or outdoors, comes from PM. Wood smoke PM is composed of wood tars, gases, soot, and ashes. Toxic air pollutants are a potentially important component of wood smoke. A group of air toxics known as polycyclic organic matter includes potential carcinogens such as benzo(a)pyrene.”

Some of the smallest fine particles can go deep into the lungs and can even pass through the lungs into the bloodstream. They can trigger respiratory problems such as asthma attacks and even heart problems. Fine particles are considered especially dangerous for young children with developing lungs, and people of all ages who have asthma, bronchitis, other respiratory problems, and or cardiovascular disease.

Breathing air containing wood smoke can:

  • Irritate eyes, lungs, throat and sinuses
  • Reduce lung function, especially in young children
  • Increase severity of existing lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Increase risks of heart attacks
  • Trigger headaches and allergies

Long term exposure to wood smoke may lead to:

  • Chronic obstructive lung disease
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Increased risks of cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
Smoke from backyard recreational fires can trigger the same health problems and may penetrate indoors to neighboring homes through intake vents or windows.
City council member Jan Walczak refused to help us last year when I complained about the constant wood smoke in this city. Three of the city's most frequent recreational burners had Walczak campaign signs in their yards last year prior to the election. Perhaps council member Walczak wants us to suffer from the long term effects of wood smoke.

I will be contacting the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to see if there is anything that can be done about this issue since the North St. Paul Mayor and city council haven't done a thing. The MPCA says on their website that they have limited power. Maybe I can get someone out to measure the contaminants in the air.