As COVID-19 rages on, it is clear that our lung health and the right to breathe fresh air is more important than ever. Smoke from wood-burning fireplaces is a known lung irritant, causes inflammation, wreaks havoc on the immune system, and contributes to a higher susceptibility to respiratory infections such as COVID-19, plus it increases the morbidity rate of those with respiratory infections.
And yet, North Shore residents continue to burn wood in their fireplaces, especially during these cold winter months, contributing to a toxic air quality and putting citizens at an increased risk of disease.
My neighbourhood has many older homes that still have wood-burning fireplaces, and on any given night there can be a half-dozen or more fires burning in the vicinity, spewing out toxic smoke. One such home across the street from me burns fires almost every night, creating a regular smokiness in the air that actually permeates into my home and affects my quality of life.
I am reminded of the summer wildfires that caused particulate in the air enough for there to be health warnings. However, the fireplace smoke is denser and more intrusive; and yet there is no recourse.
I implore local councils to take seriously the threat of smoke caused by wood-burning fireplaces, particularly within the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and enact emergency bans or other effective mitigation measures to ensure citizens have the best possible air quality with which to give them a fighting chance against this deadly disease.
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