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Particulates Matter - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Particulates Matter
For years, many of the people I speak with regularly have responded to my monologues on the problem of "particulate matter" with varying degrees of mockery. When I have tried to explain that just one particle can trigger a reaction in me that costs me days of productivity or worse, they have raised eyebrows and insinuated that my troubles may be mental. And my complaints about the start of the season when people in Tucson -- mostly old people, who get cold even when it isn't -- start burning wood for heat have inspired particular impatience, as if they were a sign of my beginning to come unhinged.

Well, perhaps they are. But the article on wood-burning fireplaces I'm reading right now, from the February, 2009 issue of Sunset magazine, has fortified my conviction that the design I discern on the yellow wallpaper isn't just in my head. Consider this part, in which Lori Kobza from the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District holds forth:
Kobza explained that woodsmoke causes almost 50 percent of the fine particulate matter in the fall and winter. And that those particles are "so fine they can get into your lungs and bloodstream, and can cause heart disease and stroke. Particulate matter is unhealthy even for healthy people to breathe."
Add to this information the fact that woodsmoke is a more potent carcinogen than tobacco smoke and you can see why many places have banned the burning of wood, unless under tightly controlled conditions. Since Pima County, Arizona is a place where such regulations either do not exist or are not seriously enforced, however, folks like me get to spend a few months each year on pins and needles, wondering whether we are going to passively inhale something that sends our health into a steep downward spiral.

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Comments
tpratt From: tpratt Date: January 26th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Ooh, I love that Gilman story. It's truly unsettling.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 27th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Isn't it?

Great seeing you this weekend. Really great!
From: e4q Date: January 26th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
wow. crap. i LOVE the smell of woodsmoke...

allergy and addiction are more or less the same thing...

damn. crap. shit.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 27th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes, I'm realizing the force of that connection more and more. I love the smell, too. I do much better with it in a wet climate where the particles fall to earth with the moisture instead of drifting perpetually on a dry wind.
From: e4q Date: January 27th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i can see how that would work. never thought i would be grateful for damp.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 28th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
See? Much to feel grateful for!
From: e4q Date: January 28th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
turns out!
masoo From: masoo Date: January 26th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You'll be glad to know we've placed a gas heater inside our wood-burning fireplace, so we won't be burning wood at our house in the future. Not that Berkeley allowed us to do it, anyway.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 27th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
This is one case when Berkeley-style fascism is something I'd welcome.
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: January 26th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, I confess that I do like a good campfire--only out in the open, where the woodsmoke dissipates--but for what it's worth, I never thought you were making it up. That bit about the carcinogen levels is disturbing, though. I had no idea!

Speaking of particulates, I was out this afternoon trying to restore my balcony garden to health and inhaled far too much dirt while trying to disentangle the roots of my aloe plant for repotting. That can't be good.

Stay as healthy as you can, Charlie!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 27th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
At least you are probably not going to get Valley Fever from that soil. Still, any particulates are bad. I think the smaller ones are worse, though. Like the sort miners inhale.
cdbravo From: cdbravo Date: January 26th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Holy smokes (ok, I couldn't resist). I promise to never burn another log in my fireplace again. That is some scary schtuff...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 27th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I love fireplaces. But it does make you wonder how much damage they've done. I know that the "fog" for which London was once famous was in large measure the result of coal and wood fires.
midendian From: midendian Date: January 29th, 2009 04:36 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well you could always wear a breathing mask for a third of the year like Japanese people do.
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