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Using or Buying Firewood? Get Informed or You Might Get Burned

Check out this informational video made by the County of Marin.

Did you know that a firewood seller cannot legally sell by the truckload? It has to be in increments of a cord — 128 cubic feet of tightly stacked wood. 

How much wood can fit in a six-foot pickup truck bed? Barely one-third of a cord.

These are just some of the facts on this short video produced by the County of Marin, University of California Cooperative Extension Marin and Kay Productions. Have a look.

Tina McMillan December 09, 2012 at 06:49 PM
We use to buy from a seller up north until we got a bad batch of moldy wood. Then I found out the amount they had been delivering was short. We turned to Nero's three years ago. The wood is a mix of oak, almond, walnut and pine. Now I know what a real half cord looks like! It almost reaches the front door when stacked. It lasts a long time if you use the lighter woods to start the fire and then burn at a lower rate once it gets going. The folks that work for Nero's are friendly and will deliver and stack in the same day. Really nice people from a local company. http://nerosfirewood.com/
Susan Mandel December 09, 2012 at 11:29 PM
This video was produced by the County of Marin. Surprisingly, the video makes no mention of the known hazards of wood smoke pollution to human health. Not only are you exposing yourself to harmful toxins when you burn, you are exposing your neighbors as well. For more information, please visit http://www.familiesforcleanair.com.
Tina McMillan December 10, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Susan: There are cleaner burning wood stoves, like the Avalon, with a two flu system. I respect the No burn days but like many people I supplement my PGE in the winter with my wood stove. It is entirely different than burning wood in an open fireplace. "Environmentally Responsible An open fireplace or antique stove may conjure fond memories, but they actually create pollution and yield very low energy efficiency. In contrast, our Avalon wood burning appliances are EPA certified and produce virtually no visible smoke or creosote. In fact the Avalon wood line as a whole has been independently rated as the cleanest burning stove lines in the world!" http://avalonfirestyles.com/TravisDocs/98800152.pdf
Rico December 10, 2012 at 03:50 AM
I think that the County of Marin knows that there are far worse sources of pollution than burning wood for heat. But unfortunately, those pollution sources cannot be stopped. Otherwise, whats left of our crumbling economy would collapse. Think about it, what would we all do without buses, trucks, bakeries, commercial conveyor burger joints and BBQs, automobiles, sewer plants, airports, shipping ports, oil refineries, power plants, manufacturing industries, nail salons, agricultural and other controlled burns, construction of high density housing projects, and (although not in Marin) trains and train lines and yards. Yes indeed, there are many known hazards to human health, but wood smoke in Marin is not the cause of them at all. Why, because half of Marin County has PG&E gas, and most people can afford to simply turn on a furnace (that also burns fossil fuels and pollutes the air) to heat their home. Using wood for heat is for very few people outside of west Marin (the other half), they only do it on special winter holidays. There is no industry or any of the other things that I mentioned in west Marin, and the air is far better than in Novato or San Rafael, so, Susan, you should focus your efforts on controlling the real sources of pollution instead of trying to bully the few people that actually need to burn wood to heat their houses. Thank You.
Citizen December 10, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Ricardo, in another earlier comment you noted (regarding construction dust): "Bituminous dust is a known carcinogen, it has other harmful chemicals in it also...it's time for those affected to contact the CSLB and file a complaint against the contractor directly, and possibly file a lawsuit against the contractor for creating a health hazard and leaving a toxic dust on peoples lungs, houses and plants." I would say that your comment applies to wood smoke as well. Wood smoke contains known carcinogens and toxic gases (see: http://ehs.sph.berkeley.edu/krsmith/publications/2006%20pubs/JIT%20Woodsmoke2.pdf). I sure wish you were correct about just a few people burning, and I respect Tina's efforts to burn as cleanly as possible. But with wood smoke making up *over 30%* of wintertime particulate pollution in the Bay Area, I'm afraid that people like Tina are in the minority. Susan is correct--wood smoke is hazardous to your health and exposure should be minimized. Just like smoking a few cigarettes probably won't hurt you much, limited exposure to wood smoke probably won't hurt you much. But it's not harmless.
Bill McGee December 11, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Ricardo Charducci – you responded to an opposing viewpoint with this: “so, Susan, you should focus your efforts on controlling the real sources of pollution instead of trying to bully the few people that actually need to burn wood to heat their houses.”. Really Ricardo you accuse Susan of bullying because she had the audacity to post this: “the video makes no mention of the known hazards of wood smoke pollution to human health”. Yikes! How dare she? Ricardo, we know you have long declared your exemption to ban on burning wood during spare the air days on the basis your home has no other source of heat. Fair enough. I don’t question your exemption to the law and you are entitled to your opinion but what do you base your contention that wood burning is not the cause of known hazards to human health? According to http://www.familiesforcleanair.org/myths/ “wood burning is the SINGLE LARGEST SOURCE of hazardous particle pollution during winter, creating even more particle pollution than vehicles and industry.” Check out this Resource Page! http://www.familiesforcleanair.org/resources/resources3/#ref5
Tina McMillan December 11, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Bill It really depends on the type of wood burning stove you use. Wood burning stove technology has created reductions in particulate matter. My stove has an emission rate of 2.6 grams per hour and is 11 years old. I do respect no burn days but like Ricardo believe that there are better ways to handle this issue such as getting the word out to folks that you can install a wood insert that keeps the air cleaner and still provides an option for heat that keeps you independent. http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/appliances.html http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/resources/publications/monitoring/caa/woodstoves/certifiedwood.pdf http://www.naturalresources.umd.edu/Publications/FactSheets/FS-939-Buying_a_clean_burning_Wood_stove.pdf
Christine December 11, 2012 at 02:44 PM
When I go outside in my yard for just minutes during an approved burn day, my hair and clothing actually reek of wood burning smoke. My dogs too! Please don't tell me it's not getting into my lungs because I know better
Tina McMillan December 11, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Christine When they talk about particulates it is the amount released into the air that affects people with COPD and allergies. If I go outside on a summer day I can often smell the cow pies from the area near Stafford Lake. I am at least three miles away. The folks that live near the freeway entrance to San Marin Drive can smell the landfill. They are also miles away. If you read the articles about wood burning stoves that are EPA certified you will find many that reduce particulate matter with the double flu system that increases the burn inside the stove. The goal is to burn as much inside the stove so it doesn't wind up in the air outside the stove. The smell of wood smoke is not necessarily a predictor of particulates that are released. When you burn wood there is an associated smell. Unlike the cow pies and the landfill, many people find it pleasant.
NovatoCitizen December 11, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I agree. And even worse, when our neighbors do this, it gets into our house as well. Even with windows up. Why people think it's okay to pollute the air in this way, is totally beyond me.

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