Burning firewood is assault on community

With autumn’s arrival comes the desire for many of my neighbours to fill the air with smoke from their chimneys. This constitutes a serious health risk for everyone.

I moved my family to Victoria for the promised clean air and healthy lifestyle. Instead, for six months of the year, I am unable to open my windows or enjoy a walk in my neighbourhood.

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Numerous credible websites reveal mountains of irrefutable evidence of the toxic effects of wood smoke, from eye, nose and throat irritations, headaches, nausea, dizziness, to heart and lung problems, cancer and premature death. Worse, these ill effects target the most vulnerable in our society: children, the elderly and those with chronic health problems.

Watching a family member struggle to breathe properly because of the actions of my neighbours is not something I should have to deal with. Why wood fires haven’t been banned in a densely populated city like Victoria, where everyone has access to clean, efficient heating, is bizarre and grossly negligent.

None of the arguments for wanting to burn wood trumps my right to breathe clean air. Those who burn wood to save a few dollars on heating are offloading the cost of their dirty fuel onto society in the form of added health-care costs and, personally, the expense of buying and running air purifiers in every room of my house. Burning wood, with all of its known health risks, is tantamount to assault on members of the community.

Colin Oakes


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