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.

Tell others about this blog!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday 06/30/2009 Burning

6:30 PM: Very faint intermittent wood smoke coming in on the wind. I can barely smell it. I do know it is wood smoke.

8:00 PM: Very faint intermittent wood smoke continues.

9:30 PM: Very faint intermittent wood smoke continues. If the breeze is just right you can smell a touch of wood smoke. Must be from a distance.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday 06/29/2009 Burning

It's another day of air pollution in North St. Paul, MN.

4:00 PM: Faint to light wood smoke. A few minutes prior to this time I was taking a shower when I noticed the smell of wood smoke. I didn't think there was any chance of wood smoke this early. I should have known better. I opened the shower door to find the bathroom smelling like burning wood. I jumped out of the shower dripping wet and ran around the house closing the windows. I left wet foot prints on the carpeting. This is not the first time I have had to jump out of the shower dripping wet to close the windows because somebody was burning wood.

The rest of the house didn't smell like wood smoke. The bathroom exhaust fan sucked in the smoky air. After toweling dry and dressing I stepped outside. I could smell wood smoke on the air, but nobody around me was burning. Taking no chances, I'll leave the windows closed for the duration of the evening.

5:00 PM: Faint wood smoke continues. It's breezy. Must be a distant burner.

6:00 PM: No wood smoke.

6:30 PM: Light to moderate wood smoke.

7:00 PM: No wood smoke where I am. Breezy. Wind appears to be blowing south.

8:00 PM: No wood smoke. Cloudy, 70 degrees.

There was no wood smoke for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday 06/28/2009 Burning

10:00 PM: No wood smoke up until this point. Just wonderful fresh air. Spent several hours outside today and this evening enjoying the summer weather while it lasts. A gorgeous, cool summer day. It is wonderful for once to sit outside and not have to breathe wood smoke. Nobody burned yard waste either. 78 degrees and mostly cloudy at 5 PM. Sunny and 73 degrees at 8 PM.

I anticipated that this evening would be another miserable smoky evening. Wood burning has been starting late lately, often after 10 PM. We still have a couple hours to go.

If we make it through the day without any wood smoke, this will be the first day since last Tuesday (5 days) that we haven't had to endure wood smoke pollution. I've got my fingers crossed.

11:00 PM: No wood smoke.

Midnight: No wood smoke.

Finally, a day without air pollution. This does not happen often in North St. Paul.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A reader from Pennsylvania

I got a rare positive email from someone out in Pennsylvania today. This person has trouble with a neighbor who refuses to stop burning wood and polluting the air. The local city leaders have refused to do anything about the air pollution. I would like to take the time to say hi. I know exactly what you are going through.

If your trouble is with one neighbor, consider yourself fortunate. Here in North Saint Paul, Minnesota, many people burn. The problem isn't as simple when there are many burners. When I say many people burn, I don't mean a majority of households. Less than 15% of households burn wood in the northern half of the city, excluding the winter months (probably closer to 10%). We are a densely populated suburb. There are about 175 to 200 homes within a quarter mile radius of me. I've seen recreational bonfires or grass burning at about 16 of them. There are a few more that burn, though. If I find a pocket of smoky air, I can only pinpoint the house doing the burning maybe half the time.

If any one of those households burns wood, the entire neighborhood will reek of wood smoke. All it takes is one. On any given night, it is almost certain that one of them will burn when the weather is nice. I've been able to track the source of wood smoke a half-mile away. If we extend the radius from a quarter-mile to a half-mile, wood smoke pollution is a near certainty every evening, as it has been for years.

If I were in a similar situation with only one neighbor polluting the air regularly, I would fight fire with fire. When the wind blows his direction, I would start a smoky fire to give him a taste of his own medicine. I would spray it with a little water every now and then so it got really steamy and smoky. I would watch to see when he went to sleep and if he left his windows open, I would go outside and start a recreational fire and smoke up his bedroom. I wouldn't limit recreational fires to weekends. I would burn all seven days of the week or as much as local ordinance allows. I would also pay attention to his comings and goings. If he went somewhere and left the windows open, I'd start a smoky bonfire so he came back home to a smoky house like you have. Do unto others as they do unto you.

There are some people who are not interested in being good neighbors. You cannot get these people to change their behavior no matter how much you try. Some people will even go out of their way to do things if they know it bothers you. You certainly don't have many options when what they are doing is legal, no matter how big of a nuisance. When you have exhausted all diplomatic options, the only recourse you have is to get even, I'm afraid.

One other option you have is to draw attention to the issue. I started this blog to serve as a public document of the hell we endure living in North St. Paul. In the past year, I've had visitors from all over the world. People are reading about this nightmare of a city. Another goal of mine is to cast a spotlight on the quality of leadership from our mayor and city council. If Mayor Michael (Mike) Kuehn and city council members Bob Bruton, Terry Furlong, Jan Walczak, and Dave Zick refuse to end this air pollution, I want as many people as possible to know their names and know they support smoky air. If they do the right thing and end recreational burning, I want people to know that they are friends of everyone who values fresh, unpolluted air. I want them to get credit or shame as appropriate.

I have no interest in being a community activist. I have no interest in unfairly criticizing our mayor and city council members. Me and my family and our neighbors are sick to death of breathing smoky air every day. Suffering in silence is no longer an option. We were stretched to the breaking point long ago.

Phase II of my campaign begins soon. If the elected officials don't end this pollution, I am going to make sure everyone in this city knows they are responsible for it. I will knock on every door in this city if I have to. I am even considering going so far as to run for office. That is something I definitely do not want to do. But if that is what it takes to end this damn air pollution, I will have no choice but to do it. Somebody has to have the gumption to do what is right. If our current mayor and city council members won't do it, the burden will fall to me.

A good leader is hard to find. I'm hopeful that I will find some good ones in my city. I wish you the best of luck finding one in yours. Try talking to some others in your community about wood smoke pollution. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that most other people find wood smoke to be as much of a nuisance as you do. You won't find many people who want to breathe smoky air every day, especially inside their own homes.

Saturday 06/27/2009 Burning

I anticipated another smoky hell of an evening like the last three.

7:00 PM: No wood smoke. 79 degrees, sunny, breezy, a gorgeous summer evening. This is a nice evening to be outside.

8:00 PM: No wood smoke.

8:45 PM: No wood smoke. Dark clouds have rolled in. It looks like we may have some rain.

8:55 PM: Brief rain shower at this time.

9:30 PM: No wood smoke. The sky is clear above, but clouds are on the horizon. Hopefully we will get more rain. Mother Nature provides relief from this horrible air pollution that City Hall has not.

If only we could get Mother Nature to run for public office.....

10:15 PM: Moderate wood smoke. DAMMIT! Not even one f-ing night without wood smoke! THIS CITY SUCKS!

11:30 PM: No wood smoke. I can hear loud voices and shouting off in the distance. Somebody is having a party.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday 06/26/2009 Burning

I am convinced that North St. Paul, MN, is hell on earth. The differences are that you don't pay property taxes in hell and there is less smoke pollution.

9:00 PM: No wood smoke up until this point. Rare. Wood smoke usually starts earlier on Fridays.

9:30 PM: Moderate wood smoke. Good and smoky outside. IS ANYONE SURPRISED? There has to be smoke pollution else it would not be North St. Paul!

10:00 PM: Very strong wood smoke. Horrible polluted air. I cannot understand why the city allows this to continue.

11:00 PM: Moderate wood smoke. The breeze is blowing west. The burner is to the east this night.

Midnight: Light to moderate wood smoke.

Thursday 06/25/2009 Burning

It was another awful evening of air pollution in North St. Paul, MN. Why aren't the city leaders doing anything about this smoky torture they are subjecting us to? Are they laughing madly about this hellish air pollution they are forcing us to live in? What elected leader in his right mind would allow this recreational burning and air pollution when such a small percentage of the population burns?

5:00 PM: No wood smoke. 88 degrees.

6:00 PM: No wood smoke.

7:00 PM: No wood smoke.

8:00 PM: No wood smoke. 85 degrees.

9:00 PM: No wood smoke.

10:00 PM: No wood smoke. 81 degrees.

10:30 PM: No wood smoke.

10:50 PM: Light wood smoke. Some jerk started burning right before the 11:00 PM cutoff. This happens often. I think I may have to redo the weather stripping along one of my windows. The wood smoke was seeping in. All the windows were closed, the AC was on, and I could still smell this damn wood smoke inside my house!

I went outside and looked around. None of my immediate neighbors was burning. It could be someone blocks away. Air pollution travels.

11:15 PM: Strong wood smoke. The air outside reeks with the heavy stench of burning wood. This is the second night in a row burning started late!

11:30 PM: Faint wood smoke. Could the burning be done for the evening?

Midnight: Strong wood smoke. No, the burning was not done. They are probably just getting started. This was the last check of the evening. I would venture a guess that the wood smoke continued into the wee hours of the morning, like it often does!

This evening's air pollution could have been the result of only one burner. One person burns and hundreds or thousands have to endure polluted air. This is not right. This must stop!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday 06/24/2009 Burning

Today is another warm day. But not warm enough to discourage recreational burning in this polluted city. The temperature was 84 degrees at 6 PM. I suspected this evening would be smoky and polluted. Just as I prepared for bed my suspicions were realized.

7:00 PM: No wood smoke up until now.

8:00 PM: No wood smoke.

9:00 PM: No wood smoke.

10:15 PM: Very strong wood smoke! The air reeks! The wood smoke is sickeningly strong. Your stomach turns the instant you smell it. Horrible smoky air has returned to North St. Paul. The past three days absent of smoke were only because it rained or was too hot to burn. With the lower temperature, air pollution is back as it always is. 80 degrees at this time.

Good thing the AC is on. The air outside is not fit for human consumption. You could not stand to breathe it.

11:00 PM: Extremely strong wood smoke continues. The wood smoke is so heavy. To give you an idea, a comparison would be to stand next to a large, smoky bonfire with your body downwind so the smoke blows directly into your face. Difficult to breathe? Smoke make you sick to your stomach? That's how strong the wood smoke is at this time. Back to bed.

I do not understand why the city leaders allowed the air pollution in this city to get so bad. Do they take pleasure in our suffering?

People considering buying real estate in the city of North St. Paul should read this blog carefully. Buying a house in a city with air pollution this bad is not something you want to do. Until the city leaders end this air pollution problem (if they ever do), steer clear of North St. Paul, Minnesota. You will be sorry if you don't. You will curse the day you moved to this town every smoky evening.

Tuesday 06/23/2009 Burning

10:30 PM: No wood smoke through this point. Today was another scorcher. Hot and humid. The high reached 95 degrees during the day, dropped to 87 degrees at 5 PM, then climbed later. It was too hot for recreational air pollution.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday 06/22/2009 Burning

8:00 PM: No wood smoke up until this point.

Today is a scorcher. The temperature was 93 degrees at 5:30 PM and it was a little humid. 91 degrees at this time. There probably won't be any burning tonight. People don't like to sit around hot smoky fires polluting the air when it gets up into the 90s.

The only way we get fresh air in this city is if it rains or is too hot or cold to burn wood.

10:00 PM: No wood smoke this evening through this point.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday 06/21/2009 Burning

5:00 AM: Faint odor of burnt wood lingers in the air. Ick.

9:00 AM: I can still smell a trace of burnt wood.

8:30 PM: No wood smoke yet this evening. There was a short sprinkle of rain around 6 PM. The wetter it is, the less air pollution from wood smoke in this city. 72 degrees, cloudy.

10:00 PM: No wood smoke up until this last check of the air quality. The rain sprinkle allowed us fresh air for the evening.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday 06/20/2009 Burning

Air pollution is back in full force in the city of North St. Paul, MN, this evening.

8:45 PM: Strong wood and grass smoke. Is it the same burner as last night disposing of yard waste while masking it by burning wood? I can't say. If it is, it would be nice if he burned all his grass at the same time so we wouldn't have to inhale his yard waste over multiple days. 84 degrees.

9:00 PM: Faint wood smoke. Could the burning be over for the evening?

9:30 PM: Very strong wood smoke. The air is filled with the horrid stench of burning wood. The air is very unpleasant. I was outside earlier enjoying the summer evening while I could. I came in just as the air pollution was beginning this evening. Nobody would want to be outside breathing that horrible polluted air. Too bad our city leaders force us to live like this. I am beginning to think they enjoy us breathing polluted air.

Nothing caps off an evening like inhaling smoky, polluted air.....Tonight's polluted air is brought to you by the elected officials of the city of North St. Paul. They are the ones who allow this air pollution to continue and who could stop it if they wished.

10:30 PM: Moderate wood smoke. Air is smoky and likely will be for hours to come. 78 degrees.

The low temperature is forecast to be 70 degrees tonight. It might be possible to turn off the air conditioning and save some electricity. But we can't do that because the air is so damn smoky!

11:00 PM: Extremely strong wood smoke. Wow! The wood smoke is so powerful it hits you in the nose the second you open the door. My stomach turned immediately smelling that horrible polluted air. I couldn't imagine the result if the windows were open. The entire house would reek of a forest fire. Breathing that polluted air for a few minutes would surely leave my sinuses burning.

Gasping for air again in North St. Paul, Minnesota. Does anyone at City Hall care? Obviously, the answer must be no since this horrible air pollution hasn't stopped.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday 06/19/2009 Burning

6:30 PM: Faint grass and wood smoke. It did not last more than a half-hour. If people are allowed to burn wood, they think they can burn anything. One sneaky neighbor burns a little wood and throws his grass clippings on top of it. He uses the currently legal wood burning to mask his grass burning. I don't know if he's the one burning at this time. I'd rather have grass burning be legal and wood burning be illegal. I have never seen anyone burn grass for 10 hours like they do with wood. Grass or wood burning, it's all unnecessary air pollution and should be eliminated. 81 degrees and cloudy.

8:00 PM: Short rain shower at this time. This will hopefully put a damper on any recreational bonfires this evening.

10:30 PM: No wood smoke. I love that fresh, unpolluted air! It is wonderful to step outside and take a deep breath and smell nothing. This does not happen often on most Friday nights. Or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday nights for that matter.

Everybody should have the right to fresh, unpolluted air all seven days of the week. Too bad we don't. I wish the city leaders would stand up for the thousands of North St. Paul residents who don't burn wood instead of protecting the small number who do.

Midnight: The air is still wonderfully fresh!

Thursday 06/18/2009 Burning

No wood smoke this evening. I was surprised. It was warm and muggy. The temperature was 83 degrees at 8 PM. Every evening should be absent of recreational air pollution like this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday 06/17/2009 Burning

No wood smoke this evening. I was surprised. It did not rain, but looked like it would rain all evening. It was cloudy with a temperature of 75 degrees at 7 PM. I last checked the air quality at 11:45PM. There was no wood smoke. You could see flickers of lightning at that time. Recreational air polluters must not want to risk getting struck by lightning. Wouldn't that be a shame?

Tuesday 06/16/2009 Burning

No wood smoke this evening as of 10:30 PM. Heavy rain by 4:30 PM. Drizzle well into the evening. Recreational burners can't pollute the air when it is raining out.

I wish it would rain every single day. That's the only way we can be assured of fresh air in this forsaken city.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday 06/15/2009 Burning

10:15 PM: Moderate wood smoke. The air was clear where I am all evening until this time. It did not last long. By 10:30 PM the air was clear. Whether this was the result of the fire being extinguished or a shift in wind direction is unknown. I did not notice any wood smoke when I checked the air quality again at 11:30 PM.

I went for a cruise around the northern half of the city this evening. I did not detect any wood smoke except for the area around Tower Park. Someone was burning wood east of the park. I tried to locate the source but could not.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday 06/14/2009 Burning

6:45 AM: Faint to light wood smoke. At this earlier hour, the air still smells like wood smoke. I noticed it first thing when I opened the window.

I went out and traced the source of this wood smoke. It was from a house in the vicinity of Navajo & 1st. They had a fire Saturday night and must have left it smoldering all night long. I could smell the wood smoke over 2 blocks away. I could see a little smoke rising from the backyard. I did not see anyone in the backyard. It was unattended. Very unsafe. This happens all the time. People do not properly extinguish fires and the wood smoke persists until the morning.

7:30 AM: Faint to light wood smoke.

9:00 AM: Faint to light wood smoke.

10:30 AM: Faint to light wood smoke. They still haven't put the fire out completely.

12:00 PM: No more wood smoke where I live.

It was smoky when I went to bed Saturday night and was smoky when I woke up Sunday morning.

There was no wood smoke Sunday evening. Finally a break from the air pollution in the city of North St. Paul, MN.

It was smoky Thursday night. It was smoky Friday night. It was smoky Saturday night. It was smoky Sunday morning. This is a horrible way to live.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday 06/13/2009 Burning

3:30 AM: Moderate wood smoke and burnt wood odor at this time. The air outside reeks. Can't open windows. We are prisoners in our own home at 3:30 AM!

Such is life in North St. Paul, MN. This is normal. If this didn't happen on a Friday or Saturday night, it would be unusual.

5:00 AM: No burning at this time. The faint odor of burnt wood lingers in the air. Nice summer morning. Open the door to get the paper. Inhale that burnt wood stink. Ick.

Hell on earth

Welcome to hell on earth, more commonly known as North Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is going to be a smoky, miserable hell this evening with more air pollution in one night than most people should breathe in an entire year. It is a gorgeous evening, sunny, with a temperature of 77 degrees. Prime conditions for recreational air pollution.

If any of you read this before the evening is over, Navajo & 1st will be very smoky. Passing by Navajo & 1st, I saw people burning already. I have often found the area of Navajo & 1st to be very smoky but was never able to pinpoint a house doing the burning until now. Large plume of wood smoke rising from the backyard. There are several burners on Navajo and back along Hilltop. There are burners everywhere.

Other areas likely for polluted air this evening are 19th & 1st, the south edge of Silver Lake, 17th & Charles and many others -- more than I care to mention. It will be hard to find an area of the city that isn't smoky this evening. It makes living in this city miserable. Ten years ago recreational burning was rare. Now, it is rare if there isn't any. This is a really nice city except for the wood smoke. North St. Paul is like a cake with ants on the icing.

I wish the leaders of this city would get out and go find a very smoky area, sit there and breathe the air for 2 hours or longer. They might then get an idea of how the rest of us live our lives almost every day. They probably would take action to eliminate this horrible air pollution from wood smoke.

6:00 PM: Getting smoky. Faint to light wood smoke where I am at this time.

7:00 PM: Getting smokier. Light to moderate wood smoke.

I told you wood burning would increase, didn't I?

I try to avoid profanity on this blog whenever I can. But this daily air pollution is frustrating because we are powerless to stop it. This evening I am more beaten down than angry. Can't do anything except sit inside with the windows closed and be miserable.

Such is life in North St. Paul.

9:00 PM: Faint wood smoke.

10:30 PM: Light wood smoke. It's getting heavier.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday 06/12/2009 Burning

2:30 AM: Light wood smoke. Got up again to use the bathroom. Opened the back door to check the air quality. Still smoky outside. Not as smoky as before, but smoky enough to where you could not open your windows. It is very common for people having bonfires to improperly extinguish their fires leaving them smoldering all night long. The result is that the entire neighborhood reeks of wood smoke because of that one burner. That may be why the air is smoky this late.

5:00 AM: Air is clear and fresh now. Take a deep breath and savor it.

I strongly anticipate this evening and the entire weekend to be very smoky. With cool temperatures and rain earlier in the week combined with kids being out of school, it is a recipe for horrendous wood smoke pollution in the city of North St. Paul, MN.

4:25 PM: Very smoky. Somebody burning yard waste. Humongous cloud of smoke drifting through yards down a way. The smoke is not coming directly at us. The entire neighborhood reeks of burning yard waste. This could be the biggest cloud of smoke I've seen yet in North St. Paul, and I've seen some big ones.

Are there any fines for illegally burning yard waste in this city? Not from what I have seen. No penalty means no compliance with the law.

6:00 PM: Moderate wood smoke. Household nearby is burning wood--AGAIN! I did not notice them burning wood at all last year. New homeowners? Renters? They burn wood 3 or 4 times a week. They stink up the entire neighborhood each time they do it--AND WE ALL HAVE TO SUFFER! I can see the plume of smoke rising from their backyard down a way.

7:00 PM: Light to moderate wood smoke. Those people are still burning.

8:00 PM: Faint to light wood smoke depending on the breeze. Those people have been burning for 2 hours now.

9:00 PM: Faint wood smoke. They are still burning. 3 hours now, no end in sight.

10:00 PM: No wood smoke worth mentioning at this time. We are going to bed now.

10:45 PM: Moderate wood smoke. Out of bed. Checked air. Good and smoky outside. The burning still has not stopped. This is almost 5 hours of foul, polluted air this evening.

I woke up at 3:30 AM. Good and smoky outside. If those people didn't stop burning or extinguish their fire, someone else started burning. If that smoke was from that same household burning at 6 PM, that would make 9-1/2 hours of smoky, polluted air from just that one household.

Yet the city leaders protect the right of that one household to pollute the air we all must breathe. One household burns and the air is polluted all night long.

Isn't this a horrible way to live?

Thursday 06/11/2009 Burning

7:35 PM: Faint wood smoke. I was sitting by the open window when I detected wood smoke coming in. I stepped outside to gauge the intensity of the smoke. It was faint, likely from a distant wood burner. Close all windows. 71 degrees and sunny. Perfect weather to leave the windows open and enjoy the cool summer evening. BUT YOU CAN'T!

I do not understand why the city wrote an ordinance allowing this much (or any) recreational wood burning. One person burns wood and hundreds of people, if not thousands, have to breathe smoky air.

Where is the public benefit in allowing a small number of people to burn wood at the expense of thousands? Do the city leaders consider that to be for the greater good?

8:00 PM: No wood smoke. Wood smoke from 25 minutes earlier is gone.

9:00 PM: No wood smoke.

9:30 PM: No wood smoke. Going to bed with all the windows in the house closed as usual.

I expected this day to be very light for wood smoke. That was not how things turned out.

10:50 PM: Moderately strong wood smoke. Got up out of bed to use the bathroom. On my way back I stepped out the back door to check the air quality. It is really smoky outside. Had we left the windows open, the entire house would reek of burning wood. Looking around, I did not see any of my immediate neighbors burning. It could be someone blocks away. Wood smoke does not stay confined to the property of the burner.

Would you like to wake up in the middle of the night with your bedroom and entire house reeking of wood smoke? If you live in North St. Paul, MN, you better get used to it. If you leave your windows open, it will happen often.

You cannot go to bed with the windows open in this city! You can't even enjoy a cool summer evening with the windows open! This is a terrible way to live!

The wood smoke continued into the wee hours of the morning. Had I not woken twice, I would have documented this day to be very light on wood smoke. With burning starting this late, perhaps the days earlier in the week that I found to be smoke-free actually had wood smoke after going to bed.

If I don't detect wood smoke before going to bed, that does not mean that someone wasn't burning later. Burning at 10:30 PM or later is common.

Babies and wood smoke

There are at least two families on this block with babies. One is 10 - 12 months of age. Earlier this week, I heard one of the babies crying around 5 AM. Hearing the baby crying so clearly, it was apparent the family left their windows open. If that family left their windows open this evening, that little baby with its delicate little lungs would be breathing smoky, polluted air. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency warns that wood smoke can be harmful to babies. Yet the city of North St. Paul, Minnesota, continues to allow the recreational burning of wood.

Why does the city government protect the right of wood burners at the expense of helpless little babies? This late evening's burning was probably the result of one recreational burner. One burner cannot find anything better to do than sit beside a pile of burning wood and everyone including little babies have to breathe smoky air.

This is not fair. This is not right. THIS MUST STOP!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday 06/10/2009 Burning

7:00 PM: No wood smoke.

8:00 PM: No wood smoke.

10:00 PM: Something unpleasant is in the air. There is a light odor in the air that isn't wood smoke as far as I can determine. It smells a little like a charcoal grill, possibly, that was not extinguished after being used. I cannot determine what it is. The odor is equal in both the front and back yards. It must be permeating the entire block or several blocks. The odor is not close to being as irritating as wood smoke. I am not complaining about it. I am noting it.

Midnight: Same odor as before now joined with a sulfur odor. At least it isn't wood smoke.

Today was another atypically cool day. The temperature was 59 degrees at 5 PM. This latest stretch of cool temperatures and rain has kept the wood burners at bay. Warmer temperatures will bring out more recreational burners, as you will soon discover.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday 06/09/2009 Burning

No wood smoke this evening. I love fresh, unpolluted air! The lack of wood smoke was due to a cool temperature of around 62 this evening. Recreational burning is less common when the temperature is under 70. You can be sure it would have been smoky if it was warmer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday 06/08/2009 Burning

Did not notice any wood smoke this evening. Cool and damp from earlier rain. The temperature was 55 degrees at 5 PM, cloudy. Conditions were not favorable for recreational bonfires. Nobody nearby seemed to be using a fireplace, thankfully.

Enjoy the limited fresh air in this city while you can. School is ending for the year. Expect wood burning to increase. June of 2008 was absolute misery. The evenings were filled with wood smoke just about every day for the final half of the month.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday 06/07/2009 Burning

Cool and rainy in the earlier part of the day. 55 degrees at 6 PM. Faint wood smoke most of the evening. Likely from the use of a fireplace.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday 06/06/2009 Burning

1:00 AM: Nobody burning right now. But the light odor of burnt wood lingers in the air. Ick!

3:00 AM: Light wood smoke at this time. Somebody is burning wood. Can't open the windows! Warm and stuffy in here! I don't know if it is a recreational fire or a fireplace. The air is smoky whatever the source of burning wood happens to be. Smoky, polluted air is the problem. It is 51 degrees at this time according to a television news website. It is not uncommon for the air temperature to dip into the mid to low 50s during the summertime. I don't know why anyone would have a fireplace going at 3 AM in June. Don't they use blankets?

This summer could very well be an even smokier hell than last summer was unless something is done about this problem. If people are using fireplaces at 3 AM in early June, Lord help us.

Nobody burned wood this evening. It was cool (50 degrees) and rained sporadically all day. I stepped outside and took several deep breaths of the wonderful fresh air. So refreshing. All it would have taken to ruin that is for one person to start a fireplace. Just one person can smoke up and pollute an entire neighborhood where hundreds live.

Friday 06/05/2009 Burning

It's another polluted evening here. The old adage that the only certainties in life are death and taxes should be altered to included smoky, polluted air if you live in North St. Paul, Minnesota.

6:55 PM: Faint to light wood smoke at this time. I can see the smoke cloud drifting south between the houses down a way. The recreational wood burner is not far. Luckily for us, the cloud of toxic air pollution isn't blowing directly into our yard. Others are not so lucky. That wood smoke will be very heavy for those directly in its path.

It is 69 degrees at this time with a nice breeze. Wouldn't it be a nice evening to open your windows and enjoy the nice breeze as you relax away the tensions of another week? Wouldn't it be nice to sit outside to enjoy the cool summer evening at the end of the work week? Yes, it would. But that damn wood smoke ruins yet another evening!

7:15 PM: Light wood smoke. If the wind shifts, we catch more of it in our yard.

7:40 PM: Moderate wood smoke because of a shift in wind direction.

8:00 PM: Intermittent moderately strong wood smoke. It is smokier in the front yard than in the back. Also smells like burning grass. Maybe the fire is burning beyond the boundaries of the fire pit or maybe someone is disposing of yard waste at the same time they burn wood (not uncommon).

8:45 PM: I can still see the cloud of poisonous wood smoke drifting between the houses down a way. It's been almost two hours of air pollution now and there is no end in sight.

9:45 PM: Light wood smoke continues. I fell asleep shortly after this time and did not document how smoky it got for the final two hours of the day. The windows were kept closed of course.

We again are prisoners in our own home in North St. Paul, MN.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday 06/04/2009 Burning

5:00 AM: DAMMIT! Someone is burning wood! Heavy wood smoke at this time. Cracked the bathroom window to get some ventilation for bathing and was greeted by the putrid stench of burning wood!

I do not know how long the air has been smoky this morning. It could be hours by now. To give you an idea of how strong the wood smoke is, I could taste it when I stuck my head out the back door. I do not know if it is from a recreational fire or a fireplace. I assume it is a fireplace since it is 52 degrees at this hour. Or maybe someone left a bonfire smoldering all night. It does not matter. A fireplace pollutes the air just like a recreational fire does. It is now summer. Nobody needs to use a fireplace in June!

I did see a bonfire at around 5:30 AM once two or three years ago. Nothing surprises me in this town when it comes to the burning of wood.

Many people probably have their windows open. Those people are waking up to a house that reeks of burning wood. Kids getting ready for school are having to breathe smoky air. Years ago before wood burning got out of control in this city, we would have left our windows open all night, too (and would love to be able to do so again). We learned years ago that you cannot leave your windows open at night in this city because you never know when someone will be polluting the air with wood smoke. It happens far too often. Waking up to the choking stench of wood smoke in the middle of the night is not pleasant. It isn't pleasant at 5 AM, either.

6:00 AM: Strong wood smoke continues. Leaving soon. Who knows how long the wood smoke will last. Luckily, I will be someplace where there isn't any wood smoke!

The only way to escape wood smoke in North St. Paul is to leave the city.

8:00 PM: Faint wood smoke for five minutes at this time. No wood smoke before this time, and no wood smoke after.

I checked the air a couple of times after going to bed until midnight. No wood smoke.

This day had heavy wood smoke in the early morning and almost none in the evening.

Wednesday 06/03/2009 Burning

10:00 PM: No wood smoke up until this point. Wonderful! Spent some time outside enjoying the unpolluted evening air. 72 degrees, nice breeze. We went to bed at this time thinking that this would be a rare evening without wood smoke. We were mistaken.

11:30 PM: Light wood smoke at this time. Had to get out of bed. On the way back I stuck my head out the back door to check the air quality. Somebody is burning wood off in the distance! I can hear voices that could be a couple of blocks away. Maybe someone is having a party. And they can't have their little party without polluting the air it seems.

We have been dealing with this hellish wood smoke pollution in North St. Paul for years now. We were wise enough to close the windows before going to bed, as we almost always do. You never know who is going to be burning wood late at night or in the wee hours of the morning in this town. Wood burning is so prevalent these days nothing surprises me anymore.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday 06/02/2009 Burning

6:30 PM: Around this time I noticed light wood smoke as I was leaving. I didn't stick around to find out how long it lasted. 72 degrees and sunny at this time. Very nice.

8:30 PM: There was no wood smoke in my area when I returned.

I took a drive through a small part of the city on my way back. I noticed light wood smoke on Lake Blvd. just north of St. Mary's Cemetery. I happened to pass through the intersection of Charles & 18th. There was no wood smoke over there. Last year, this was the smokiest part of the city. If you read my posts from 2008, I describe how smoky it was in that area.


Other than the wood smoke on Lake Blvd., I did not notice it anywhere else. I thought there would be more. Don't worry, there will be. The peak wood burning season is just getting started in North St. Paul. When the kids are out of school, that's when recreation burning takes off. The last day of school is June 9th.

10:00 PM: I can't say there is any wood smoke at this time. I stepped onto the deck to check the air. There's a nice breeze coming out of the east. 62 degrees at this hour.

Overall, this was a very light day for wood burning. The less air pollution from burning wood, the better.

Industrial pollution and recreational pollution

If there was a factory in town that belched out smoke that burned people's sinuses, gave them headaches, made them feel nauseous, and sometimes put out smoke so heavy it was thick as a cloud, would the city government allow such a factory to continue operating? Probably not. There would be a public uproar over a factory like that. City leaders would be eager to shut it down. And rightly so.

So why does the city allow such pollution from recreational wood burners? Wood fires put out pollution like I described. I have experienced it far too many times in this city. Pollution is pollution.

The factory is an easy target for politicians. The wood burners are not so easy. Instead of ruffling the feathers of a small percentage of the population that burns wood, city leaders ignore the problem. The result is that 85% or more of the residents who never burn wood recreationally have to suffer. This has to change.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday 06/01/2009 Burning

7:45 PM: Light wood smoke coming out of the west. It is not grill smoke, not charcoal, and doesn't smell like food. It is wood smoke. It must be from a distant source. As I have written before, you can smell smoke from a recreational fire or fireplace a half-mile away or further from the source.

8:30 PM: Wood smoke is dissipating. Faint wood smoke at this time. You can barely smell it.

9:00 PM: No more wood smoke.

10:30 PM: Air is fresh and clear. Last check of the evening. Time for bed. Dare we sleep with a window open tonight?

Overall, this was a very light evening for wood smoke. Though it was not very smoky, we deserve better. The temperature was 72 degrees at 6:30 PM and cloudy. For a while, it looked like it might rain. It did not. The sun reappeared around 8 PM.

Sunday 05/31/2009 Burning

12:30 AM: Light odor of burnt wood lingers in the air.

7:00 AM: The air smells faintly like burnt wood. The air does not smell good. At 7 AM the air is still not fresh.

There was no wood smoke this evening where I live. Only wonderful fresh air! The reason there was no horrible wood smoke this evening was because of the rain. Rain clouds moved in by late afternoon. Drizzle started to fall around 7:30 PM and ended after an hour. It was 80 degrees at 6 PM. Had it not been for the rain, this day most likely would have been a miserable, smoky hell like most are in the this city.

Sundays are one of the smokiest days of the week. You would think that Fridays or Saturdays would be the smokiest, but there is no day of rest when it comes to unnecessary air pollution in North St. Paul, MN. The small proportion of recreational burners can't take a break when it comes to destroying our quality of life.

This was the first day in the last five days without wood smoke pollution. We had smoky air the prior four days. Out of the past 8 days, we had only 2 without wood smoke for a total of 6 days with polluted air. Of those 8 days, 2 of them were not suitable for recreational burning. Tuesday the 26th was cool and damp. This day had rain in the evening. If the weather was nicer, you can bet these two days would have been smoky as well.

It should be evident that the air in this city is polluted a majority of the time. If the weather is nice, the air will be smoky nearly 100% of the evenings. Only rain and extremely cool or hot temperatures can save us from smoky air in North St. Paul.