New Jersey Suburbanite Is Being Terrorized...by Woodsmoke
Posted to Breathe Healthy Air on December 20, 2013 at 6:35
I am in a NJ suburb and I feel terrorized. The next door neighbor's
smokestack is low. He's burning from a fireplace insert. My house gets
surrounded by putrid noxious fumes. Windows, doors and vents are all
sealed. Of course smoke gets in when garage doors or any doors open. IT
COMES IN THROUGH THE WALLS. the township officials just shrug their
shoulders. He has the right to burn, but do I not have the right to
breathe outside on my own property and in my own home? Over the last
week and a half I have spent four nights at my mother's house. Cannot
use my computer. Bring Christmas cards to write, but my address book is
at home. Pack, drive, unpack. I am fortunate I have a place to go. I
never know when he'll start, so as I flee, I get several lung fulls.
This situation is bullying. Environmental terrorism. I am not myself. I
am fearful. I cry. I have put in two complaints with the township
through municipal court. He burned more - and thicker- when he got them.
I've also contacted an attorney. This has got to stop. I have to have
hope. I call the health department often and they say he has the right
to burn and refuse to come out to see the smoke at it's worst. A person
from the fire department said - wood smoke is "natural." That idea is
ingrained in the uneducated. So many of us have this problem. We needed
to speak out with united voices.
Webmaster-----Wood burning is Environmental Terrorism. Here are some suggestions to help you end the horror and poisonous woodsmoke emissions (PM2.5) you are forcibly breathing due to this antiquated anti-health, anti-environmental, and anti-societal action.
You can stop the woodsmoke from your neighbor and everyone else in
the area if you have the energy, time, willpower, and the spirit
to never quit. If you don't have the previous traits, then the
wood burner(s) will win, and you will continue to suffer, and
possibly even die prematurely, from deadly woodsmoke emissions
(PM2.5.). Below is our advice and suggestions........
Woodsmoke will kill you so you must fight to end it.
Please read the information posted on the Breathe Healthy Air
Website that is given to all seeking help and direction in ending
woodsmoke in their community..
If you follow these suggestions, you will succeed in having air to
breathe---free of woodsmoke!
Keep us posted on your status.....
Never give up!
Breathe Healthy Air
Please read the information below-----(Copied from the above
Welcome to the world of Hell experienced by millions due to
The below are suggestions and comments to help you end woodsmoke
in your community......
Woodsmoke emissions are killing you. You must act to stop it. If
you do nothing, it will never, never end!!!!!!!!!
Check out these websites for great information and help.
1. Breathe Healthy Air
2. Clean Air Revival
4...Freedom of Air
Yes, wood smoke emissions and other toxic emissions will harm you
and your family and make all of you sick. Wood smoke kills too.
We hope you do not mind straight-talk about woodsmoke. That's what
you will get from us.
Remember, the above websites will give you factual, scientific, medical,
educational, and legal information about wood smoke, the pollution
it creates, and the harm it does to people.
There are no filters of any kind that will filter out the small
particulate matter (PM2.5) that wood smoke emits into the air. The
particulates go directly into the lungs of anyone who breathes it.
There, they fester, and then the problems begin. This medical
information can be found on the burningissues web site. You
can/should print out fact sheets from the burningissues web site.
Testing can be done. You will have to rent a unit to do that. It
can be expensive. But, it is an option to consider.
1...Our experience is that the EPA (state and federal), Pollution
Control Board, state government, the American Cancer Society,
American Lung Association, local health boards, and town councils
never/seldom help people like you/us. Why? Who knows. Lack of
knowledge of the harmful and deadly effects of woodsmoke may be
one reason. There are other reasons: lazy, don't care, etc....
2...This wood/toxic burner knows he/she is harming you and your
family. You must act now before it is too late.
3...Wood burning is a public and private nuisance. When the wood
smoke emissions involuntarily enter your property, that violates
your property rights. Woodsmoke is really an assault and battery
on your person. Consult a lawyer to file a lawsuit and TRO.
Here are more suggestions.....
It is your choice as to which ones (or all) you wish to do-----
1...You must document the smoke and the illnesses as they occur.
You need to start a Daily Log and record the time of the smoke,
the intensity, and what it did to your family (coughing, wheezing,
nauseous feeling, etc.). Take pictures. Start a file for all
2...Send a letter to your neighbor asking him/her to stop burning
and explain how the woodsmoke/toxic smoke affects you and your
family. You need this documented for the future (for a lawsuit or
when you go to the Town Meeting to plead your case)
3...Ask your neighbors to co-sign the letter to the burner. Ask
your neighbors to go to the Town Meeting with you and voice their
4...Send a letter (for documentation again) to the Mayor and the
Town Council formally asking for their help. Include attachments
from the burningissues web site for support.
5...Send a letter to the local newspaper explaining the negative
health effects of wood burning. Ask others to write too.
6...Record all doctor visits. Have your doctor write the Mayor
and Town Council supporting your request to ban wood burning/toxic
burning because it is causing harm to your health..
7...Contact your local legal aid or ACLU for help. They might
take your case pro bono. Otherwise hire a lawyer.
8...The law known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may
be violated. Check with the legal people, Town Council, or Town
Health Department official.
9...Call 911 and report that you are being assaulted from the
woodsmoke/toxic smoke that is entering your home without your
10..Call your local/county health department and file a formal
complaint about the air pollution in your home from an outdoor
11...File an official complaint with the state pollution control
board or local/state EPA. You need to have an official record of
12...File a police report because wood smoke/toxic smoke is a
private and public nuisance and is against the law.
Don't give up. It will not be easy. But, the alternative is that
you are letting someone harm you and your family if you do
nothing. What is more important than your family's health and
The following is great general information for you....
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
April 20, 2008
What's In That Smoke?
For many the smell of wood smoke from a fireplace elicits fond
memories of hearth and home. There is a lack of awareness,
however, that wood smoke has become a major source of air
pollution in the United States. Combustion of organic matter such
as wood and yard debris releases a variety of harmful substances,
including particulates, carcinogens, carbon monoxide, respiratory
irritants and toxins. Many people--infants and children, pregnant
women, senior citizens, and those suffering from allergies,
asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, or other heart or lung
diseases--are at risk from the pollution released by wood smoke.
Compounds released during the combustion process interfere with
normal lung development and function. Indoor and outdoor air
quality can be degraded significantly by the use of poorly
designed, non-certified wood stoves. Poor burning processes, lack
of maintenance, improper stove installation, and burning wet wood
create excessive amounts of pollution. Fires left smoldering to
keep a house warm during the night can also be particularly
harmful. Smoldering wood burns slower and incompletely, thereby
releasing more smoke and gas into the air.
Wood smoke contains tiny particles of creosote, soot, and ash that
can remain airborne for up to three weeks. Small particles of
solid and liquid matter suspended in the air are called
particulate matter, or "PM." PM10 are those particles 10 microns
or less in diameter. (In comparison, a human hair is approximately
70 microns in diameter.) PM2.5, or "fine" particulate matter, are
those particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter. Inhaling fine PM
causes coughing, irritation, and permanent scaring of the lungs.
This type of damage decreases lung function, increases the
potential for respiratory illness, and may contribute to cancer,
heart disease, and changes in DNA, leading to auto-immune
diseases. Because of the health threats associated with
particulate air pollution, the federal government regulates all
particulate matter as one of the six major air pollutants.
Particulate pollution from wood stoves is primarily produced in
the winter when stagnant air and temperature inversions limit air
movement. At this time smoke is unable to rise and disperse, and
this pollution becomes trapped close to the ground in our
breathing space. Areas with valleys and poor air circulation can
be strongly affected. The small size of these particles allows
them to seep into houses through closed doors and windows.
Many of the small particles from wood smoke are too small to be
filtered by the nose or upper respiratory system. Therefore, they
are able to penetrate deep within the lungs, and they collect in
the most remote portions of the lungs called the alveoli, which
are tiny air sacs where oxygen enters the blood stream. Due to
their ability to evade the defenses of the body, these particles
are efficient vehicles for transporting toxic gases, bacteria, and
viruses into the lungs, and ultimately the blood stream. Some
toxic compounds are cancer-causing and can attach to the smallest
smoke particles and enter the lungs at the same time. Particulate
matter can clump together, blocking tiny veins as well as invoking
harmful structural and chemical changes in the lungs.
A report released by the Washington State Department of Ecology
based on research conducted by the University of Washington in
Seattle and the EPA in Boise, Idaho, found that indoor PM10 levels
from wood smoke in homes without woodstoves can reach 50-70
percent of the outdoor PM levels. The PM released from wood
heating can also cause biological mutations (chromosome defects
and genetic damage) in cells of the lungs. Mutagens and
carcinogens are not exactly the same and not all mutagenic
substances cause cancer. Mutations brought about by wood smoke,
however, potentially lead to cancer formation. In 1988 an EPA
study found that biological mutations in bacteria exposed to
winter air samples increased with higher concentrations of fine
particulate matter and were most numerous at the times of coldest
temperatures, weekends, and holidays when wood stoves were used
The cancer threat from air pollution is another serious public
heath concern. In 1985 the EPA started a research program to
clarify the sources of air pollution and to estimate their future
cancer risk (Washington State Department of Ecology 1997). Their
research determined that motor vehicles and wood stoves were the
major sources of particulate air pollution and associated cancer
risk in the urban airsheds studied. According to the EPA, many of
the substances identified in wood smoke are suspected human
carcinogens or co-carcinogens. These compounds include many
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as benzo(a)pyrene,
and various aldehydes, alkenes, and semi-volatile organic
[For information about the health risks from exposure to air
toxics. See EPA's Health Risk Assessment brochure
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is also produced
when wood is burned. Once in the blood stream, it reduces the
ability of blood to carry oxygen to body tissues. Respiratory
toxins and irritants, including nitrogen dioxide, are also
released during wood combustion. These compounds impair the
respiratory system and reduce its ability to fight infection.
Wood Smoke vs. Cigarette Smoke
Although many people associate tobacco smoke with certain health
risks, research indicates that second hand wood smoke has
potentially even greater ability to damage health. A comparison
between tobacco smoke and wood smoke using electron spin resonance
revealed quite startling results (Rozenberg 2001, Wood Smoke is
More Damaging than Tobacco Smoke). Tobacco smoke causes damage in
the body for approximately 30 seconds after it is inhaled. Wood
smoke, however, continues to be chemically active and cause damage
to cells in the body for up to 20 minutes, or 40 times longer.
Some of the components in wood smoke are free radicals, which
steal electrons from the body, leaving cells unstable or injured.
Some of these cells may die, while others may be altered and take
on different functions. These changes lead to inflammation, which
causes stress on the body. EPA researchers suggest that the
lifetime cancer risk from wood stove emissions may be 12 times
greater than the lifetime cancer risk from exposure to an equal
amount of cigarette smoke. (Rozenberg 2001, What's in Wood Smoke
and Other Emissions).
What You Can Do
In order to mitigate the negative impacts caused by wood smoke,
homeowners should consider converting their wood fireplaces to gas
stoves. This type of heating is not only healthier for household
members and the community, but it is a more efficient way to heat
a home. Wood stoves often draw warm air from a room up the chimney
along with smoke, resulting in less heat in a room. Gas stoves, on
the other hand, provide a better, more efficient heating effect,
with virtually no emissions.
Don't give up!!!!
Fight like your life depends on it....because it does! Being Mr.
Nice Guy or Ms. Nice Lady does/will not work. Get angry. Take
Keep in touch.
Breathe Healthy Air Coalition