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Who are we?

We are Canadians who have come together to fight for the right to breathe clean air in our homes, yards and neighbourhoods.

We are against residential wood smoke and odour from all wood burning appliances - stoves, fireplaces, furnaces and all outdoor burning.

We are against all wood burning pollution!


Wood Smoke and Cancer

Article by The Canadian Clean Air Alliance

The Canadian Clean Air Alliance's main goal is to help raise public awareness about why wood burning - both indoors and outside - is a serious health and air quality issue, especially high in residential areas, where many people are very sensitive to even low levels of smoke exposure. Wood smoke pollutants pose health risks to the wood burning homeowner, and the particles and gases contained in wood smoke can also re-enter nearby homes even through closed windows and doors, thereby affecting the air that neighbours are breathing - both outdoors, and inside their own homes.
We hope this information might help more people to consider making choices that will help to keep the air - the only air we have to breathe - healthier for all of us.

Like cigarette smoke, residential wood smoke contains hundreds of dangerous air pollutants, gases and fine particulates, including: Particulate Matter 2.5, Carbon monoxide, Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen oxides, PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons), VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Wood burning also produces dioxins, furans, benzene, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and many other harmful substances.
These toxic pollutants are a potential risk for the development of lung cancer, other cancers and serious health problems such as: blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, lung disease like asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and bronchitis; irritation of the lungs, throat, sinuses and eyes; headaches; allergenic reactions; increased hospital admissions and even premature death. The particles in wood smoke are too small to be filtered by the nose and upper respiratory system, so they can penetrate deeply into the lungs, where they can alter cells, and act as vectors for bacteria, toxins and virus. Wood smoke has been found to remain chemically active in the body up to 40 times longer than cigarette smoke.
The microscopic airborne specks of pollution known as particulate matter, or PM, produced by wood-burning appliances are now a special concern to many health professionals and scientists, because of their impact on human health, as these tiny particles do have the ability to reach deep into the lungs, carrying high levels of chemical compounds that have been linked to cardiopulmonary diseases and cancer. Recent research has found that these particles can also damage DNA, and impact genes in a way comparable to cigarette smoke and car exhaust.
In February, 2011, Danish researcher Steffen Loft published a study of air pollution from wood stoves, which found that wood smoke PM has a similar toxicity and effects on DNA, as vehicle exhaust particles. An abstract of this study can be found at this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21235221
The American Environment Protection Agency estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke is 12 times greater than that from an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke. (The Health Effects of Wood Smoke, Washington State Department of Ecology)
Studies show that people who heat their homes with wood have more respiratory problems than those who do not - and again, it is important to remember that wood smoke can also enter neighbouring homes, affecting the health of nearby residents. Research shows that children in wood burning neighbourhoods are more likely to have lung and breathing problems. (From Focus on Wood Smoke Pollution - Washington State Department of Ecology)

Wood combustion releases harmful pollutants into the air we breathe (Canadian Lung Association)

Research indicates that a reduction in disease resistance is associated with wood smoke exposure. Wood smoke exposure can disrupt the cellular membranes, depress immune system activity, damage the layer of cells that protect and cleanse the airways, and disrupt enzyme levels. The health effects of wood smoke exposure include increased respiratory symptoms, increased hospital admissions for lower respiratory infections, exacerbation of asthma, and decreased breathing ability. Young children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease are most likely to be affected, however the harmful pollutants associated with wood smoke also directly impact on the health of otherwise healthy people.

What’s In That Smoke?

(New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services)

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.

Municipal bylaws regulating wood heating

Many municipalities experience air quality problems because of residential wood combustion. For municipalities who'd like to develop regulations on wood burning, Environment Canada has developed a Model Municipal By-Law for Regulating Wood Heating Appliances (PDF).

The CCAA is working in many communities to get bans and strict bylaws in place and we hope that municipalities will realize that the best way to deal with RWSP(Residential Wood Smoke Pollution) is to change to a non burning heat source. There is no safe way to smoke cigarettes and no safe way to burn wood.

Published Literature on Wood Smoke and Cancer

By: Dorothy Robinson

Predominant wood (fuel) users in North America and Europe have a 21% higher risk of lung cancer. The full article can be found here.


The Canadian Cancer Society includes wood burning as a source of lung cancer formation.


Case Study - "Sampling Program for Residential Wood Heating, Study Report: 1999 to 2002, carried out in a residential area of Montreal"_____________

Reduction in deaths due to ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease may be associated with implementation of residential burn restrictions in San Joaquin Valley.


EPA report confirms that dioxin is a cancer hazard to people.



The American Environment Protection Agency estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke is 12 times greater than that from an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke. (The Health Effects of Wood Smoke, Washington State Department of Ecology);

Did you know that wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco smoke?

"For those on the receiving end of a neighbour's fireplace or wood stove, it is often similar to living with a chain smoker." Wayne R. Ott, Ph.D.

What was once considered a harmless practice now is recognized as a major source of air pollution and major contributor to global warming. Wood smoke has also been identified by Environment Canada as a significant source of winter pollution, now known as "Winter Smog."

If we have made it illegal to leave our cars idling for a few minutes, how can it then be okay to have a wood burning stove or fireplace going 24/7 or even for a few hours, emitting toxins and carcinogens while our kids play outside in the "fresh" air or while we sit in our homes with a window open letting in "fresh" air?

As the number of people affected by residential wood smoke is growing, more and more people are finally starting to speak out. We realize that as individuals we are not being heard by any level of government local, provincial or federal. We must all take serious measures towards truly safe air and recognize that the best way is to go forwards, not backwards to end all residential wood burning.

n February of 1995, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received a report on indoor carcinogenic pollutant emissions from EPA Phase II Wood Stoves: Normalizing for the rate of wood consumption during each test, the average Benzo [a] pyrene (B [a] P) source strength is 32 ng/kg of wood burned. The average Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) source strength is 360 ng/kg of wood. This is the exposure on average to the user. The neighbour, of course, gets the brunt of wood smoke pollution. (NISTIR 5575) U.S. Department of Commerce.

"A voice in the dark is never heard until someone listens"

   Visit our 'Watch Dog' page to see the places we are keeping an eye on.


 The Canadian Cancer Society lists, among other pollutants,  indoor coal or wood burning as linked to a number of negative health effects.

It makes existing lung disease and heart problems worse and it increases the number of lung cancer deaths.

Click HERE for suggestions to handle residential wood smoke problems

 Click here to listen to Vicki Morell's radio interview March 11, 2011


                                              Click here to sign our petition to ban residential wood smoke


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