We should all think about minimizing or eliminating burning wood

As someone who has regularly walked and cycled these gorgeous back roads of ours here in rural southern Vermont for over 30 years, I have to say that I've noticed that fresh air is fast becoming a scarce commodity to come by these days.

The reason: the increased use of wood stoves for home heating and the increased popularity of fire pits and outdoor campfires during the warmer months.

It just seems like so many people don't even see all that wood smoke as the air pollution it actually is, nor do they recognize the health hazard wood smoke is to the lungs and everyone's overall well-being.

Likewise, I've noticed what seems to me a high incidence of pulmonary illnesses among my neighbors -asthma, emphysema, even lung cancer - and believe there may well be a connection.

Wood smoke is full of toxic carcinogens and lung irritants (particulate matter, black carbon, benzene, formaldehyde, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzo[a]pyrene, etc.), all of them very bad for human health as well as the environment in general.

Over the years, I've picked up tidbits of information on this subject in news, environmental, and health publications. Recently, I found a website that consolidates and well presents the results of scientific studies on the subject from all angles, and I encourage folks to check it out and think about it. The organization is Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution,

We have alternative methods of heating our homes and entertaining ourselves in our backyards that don't cause this extent of harm. Perhaps we should all think about minimizing or eliminating burning wood so as to better protect everyone's health and to better safeguard this wonderful and precious planet we all share.

Tom Vickers


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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