To the editor:
Being home-confined now more than ever due to the coronavirus, and desperate to go out for a walk and enjoy the fresh air, brought to mind how precious our air is. I thought now would be a good time to bring up how bad any smoke affects us.
On one of my walks I smelled that dreaded smoke. This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Open burning is banned in 22 cities across the commonwealth. It pollutes our air and is very difficult for people with respiratory problems.
Burning creates smoke, an odor nuisance and health risks. Adults and children with respiratory conditions, asthma and heart problems are especially affected by it.
I bring this up because I saw that one of our city councilors wants to ban smoking near outdoor restaurants. She didn’t agree with me years ago about burning and smoke. Obviously, this is a good idea: We don’t want any smoke entering our lungs while we walk or eat. A new report out by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that secondhand smoke is twice as deadly as originally determined.
The city and the Health Department should endorse policy to serve and protect the community based on findings of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the coronavirus affects respiratory systems, many states have halted open-burning altogether — including New York, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon and Idaho.
We know people like their outdoor pits. But, remember, it must be 75 feet from neighbors and dwellings, and if it is a nuisance, the Fire Department will come. Also, some are illegal and not up to code.
This smoke lingers over neighborhoods, and 40 million Americans with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or smoke allergies have trouble breathing.
Smoke isn’t the only hazard; heat itself is harmful too. Inhaling air that is consistently at a higher temperature can damage the lining of our lower respiratory tracts.
Just to note that smoke and air pollution can change: The International Space Station just saw the outline of China for the first time. Previously it was hidden under a constant cloud of pollution. The canals of Venice have cleared up, the California mountains are also visible.
We are all in this together, so please think of your neighbors before burning. You don’t know their health issues.
When we want to go for a walk to clear our heads and meditate, we don’t want to breathe smoke.
I hope we can follow other cities and states and stop open burning, at least temporarily.