I spent a week in the San Francisco Bay Area as the Camp Fire was destroying Paradise, leaving many dead. The smoke blanketing the Bay Area was caustic. Schools closed, and our lungs and throats burned as we wore masks and tried to stay inside.
I was delighted to return to Eugene. Then I felt that familiar burning again — and found the Air Quality Index at 84! Home-heating wood smoke creates fine particles that are very detrimental for everyone — not just children, the sensitive and the elderly. These people are our neighbors.
Ironically, most of us never even feel an impact — it is almost an invisible threat. A simple internet search can show you how harmful breathing smoke is. In a time when there is not a lot of positive leadership from “above,” we have to remember that life is much more lateral than it is top-down.
As citizens and community members, we can take direct steps to improve our air shed and world. Cleaner woodstove technology exists here and now. Research “rocket stove” online. Smoke is simply unburned fuel, just like low-grade diesel “smoke” — it is very harmful.
Why wait for someone to ban it? We live in a big air shed together — regardless of who gets elected. Before we light that next heating fire, we should ask: “What can we do to stay warm and improve the air quality for our community?”