Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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.
Tags: health, rant
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