Wood Smoke Kills

Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

My mother died at 70 from COPD and air pollution. She was ill the last two decades of her life until she coughed herself to death.

We lived in a small town very like Santa Rosa where people (including my family) relied on burning wood for heat in the winter. We were also exposed to pesticides sprayed on surrounding crops, smudging of orchards in the Spring, dust created by haying and mowing, and Agent Orange chemicals applied to nearby forests by lumber companies.

My mother tried to raise awareness of these pollutants, writing letters to the editor of the local paper and pressuring her representatives to regulate their use. Some of her letters, written four or five decades ago, could be written today.

We pay too little attention to air quality. New studies about the effects of air pollution and smoke show that they are worse for human health than we knew, especially for children and elders. Wood smoke is linked to heart attack and stroke, lung disease, cancer, cognitive decline, brain inflammation and neurological problems according to a recent Stanford study https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/stanford-study-shows-wood-smoke-can-harm-brain.

Please, dear neighbors, stop burning wood. You are affecting your child’s health and you are killing your mother.

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