Last January, the New York Times reported that people buying wood stoves and fireplaces had dramatically dropped over the last decade due to awareness of the particulate pollution they create and their impact on climate change and global warming. In short, burning wood, as in burning fossil fuels, releases the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases sequestered in it and increases the impact on our environment and air quality.

A recent task force on the Puget Sound area of Tacoma-Pierce County in Washington State sent recommendations to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency about what needed to be done Smog to reduce soot in the air and meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. While both industry and diesel vehicles create a significant amount of soot, by far the largest contributor to the situation comes for wood burning stoves and fireplaces which make up more than 53% percent of the total load to the environment in that area.

Since the Northwest has such an abundance of trees, it is natural to think about using them for fuel. Some experts even state that this type of fuel is eco-friendly and since it is renewable is a good fuel source. However, many believe that the impact to the air quality of burning these fuels cannot be reasonably justified.

In 1985, Seattle had a smog problem that was linked to residential burning of wood in stoves and fireplaces that was so severe that the SeaTac airport had to be closed. Good news, since then, was linked to residential wood stoves. Since then, according to Jim Nolan, executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the smoke in the area can been cut by 75% or more.

So, what do you think about this? Please share your thoughts so we can see where our community stands on this issue.

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