Many towns and cities, such as our neighbouring city of North Bay, do not allow it. It is also banned in many other communities across Ontario, and for good reason. The smoke and fumes created by wood burning are a serious health hazard. Anyone with access to the internet can quickly find undisputed evidence that wood smoke and fumes are a serious health risk.
Health Canada notes that wood smoke contains particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (carcinogens).
The EPA reports that health effects include respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, non-fatal heart attacks, and premature death in those with heart or lung disease.
Air quality in any neighbourhood can be degraded very quickly with the fumes from just one fire. I have reason to believe than many suffer silently because they are afraid or don‘t know how to complain.
The bylaw states under “prohibited conditions” that a fire is not allowed if it will result in “inconvenience or irritation to others from smoke or fumes.” Under the bylaw, residents are entitled to have a fire put out if it is aggravating in any way.
Infractions are investigated by bylaw officers during office hours and by the fire department depending on the type of complaint or the time of day. According to the fire department, all smoke or fumes concerns should be directed through the 911 service.
It isn’t unreasonable to consider the rights of others before lighting a fire. Would you tolerate fumes or smoke from a neighbourhood open fire that was at least as toxic as cigarette smoke? I think it is unquestionably justifiable to consider banning open burning altogether.
Posted by Vivian Scinto