September/October 2015 Newsletter:

A New (Old) Source of Air Pollution

By Suzanne DeGaetano, Cleveland, Ohio

A new source of air pollution is having a detrimental effect on our air quality. It is the pervasive wood smoke from recreational backyard burners and fire pits in places like my Old Brooklyn neighborhood. On temperate summer evenings and cool autumn nights dozens of people have fires in their backyards. This smoke wafts throughout the neighborhood and into open windows and it is impossible to breathe fresh air. This is a health and quality of life issue that has become most urgent as more and more people buy and use these burners. It has become a form of recreation and socializing that has the consequence of harming air quality in our neighborhoods.

The burners are putting loads of unhealthy smoke and particulates into the air and, of course, this is detrimental to heart and lung health. It is also aggravates allergies and asthma. It seems ironic that cigarettes are banned from most indoor places of business, yet the outdoors and our living rooms are filling up with smoke. The smoke from the backyard burners easily move into every home via open (and even closed) doors and windows. It’s an insidious new kind of pollution that has real and significant health consequences in the community.