The choking side of wood burning

Here is a glimpse into the other side for your readers who insist on their right to burn wood whenever and wherever.

I look out over the smoky haze in my neighbourhood as I gasp for breath, wheezing and coughing and feeling like I am drowning. Eventually my heart is pounding so hard I head for the emergency department. While I am waiting to be seen a mother brings in a child in obvious respiratory distress. When I am seen by the emergency room doctor he gives me a prescription for an inhaler. I get the prescription filled; it costs over $100. It is now evening. While I spent the day at the hospital my neighbours have been happily saving a few bucks burning unseasoned wood they picked up on the side of the road. One neighbour is even burning landscaping wood chips — hey they are even cheaper than wood. The smoke is still billowing from his chimney as the cool fog settles in and holds this toxic mix at ground level.

The cost: thousands of dollars of taxpayer money towards the cost of health care, thousands of dollars in prescriptions, the cost of watching as your child or loved one drowns in their own mucous.

Why: so you can save a few bucks on your Hydro bill or not have to go to the dump with your refuse.

Hardly seems fair to me, but hey, this is the Cowichan Valley, where your child is 75 per cent more likely to get asthma and burning wood is your right.


P. Vogan

Lake Cowichan

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