Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Outdoor firepits take a heavy toll

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Dear Editor:

Barring forest fires or other natural disasters, urban dwellers in Winnipeg will soon suffer another season of city sanctioned open-air fire pits.

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The World Health Organization states: "The largest contributors to urban outdoor air pollution include amongst other the burning of biomass and coal."

Environment Canada recognizes smoke from burning wood as the greatest single source of particulate matter in the country.

Furthermore, all levels of government, health organizations, including the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, recognize wood smoke and its pollutants as major health hazards.

A representative from the Manitoba Lung Association suggested "closing windows and doors." By the time your eyes tear and the toxins invade your lungs the exercise is rather futile.

Wood smoke is more than a nuisance; it remains chemically active in the body 40 times longer than cigarette smoke. It is a severe health hazard and a preventable burden to our health care system.

Those who would argue about our clean air are not living downwind or next door to a wood-burning fire pit or fireplace.

If the smoke from a fire pit interferes with the enjoyment of your property, and your right to breathe, you can try dialling 311 and reporting the incident as a nuisance under the Neighbourhood Liveability Bylaw. From experience, however, calling 311 is often waste of time.

Wood smoke causes more damage to the environment and health than photo radar, red light cameras, and the operation of noisy snow sleds within the city. I have yet to hear or see a snowmobile travelling across my lawn at the break of dawn or twilight.

Yet I suffer smoke from open air burning and recreational fire pits entering my residence, and affecting my health. Open-air burning and smoke from recreational fire pits within the city need as much attention and consideration as mosquito fogging and the use of garden insecticide.

Be a good neighbour. If smoke from your fire bothers your neighbours, damages their property, or otherwise causes a nuisance, you must immediately put it out.

Serge Massicotte

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2012 A11

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