I love fall and winter, but the one thing I don’t love about the colder months is a type of pollution called Particulate Matter 2.5 or PM2.5. This air pollution is most often caused by smoke from burning wood.
Smoke that comes from burning firewood is bad for my health—and it’s bad for you, too, especially if you’re a kid. Your lungs aren’t fully grown yet, and neither are you. So, because of your smaller size, you actually breathe more air than adults – and that means you breathe in more air pollution. Wood smoke contains many of the same chemicals that are in cigarettes and none of them are good for our health. It can cause us to get sick with illnesses that make us cough or hurt our throats and lungs.
Here are some of my favorite tips about how to reduce wood smoke pollution and protect your family’s health:
- Tell your parents how important it is to get the chimney cleaned.
- Try not to inhale any smoke – if you are sitting around a campfire and the smoke is blowing toward you, move to a different spot.
- If you have a wood burning fireplace in your home, ask your parents to consider switching to an electric or gas fireplace.
- Never burn garbage or wrapping paper.
- Do not leave a fire burning when you and your family go to bed.
If your family lives in Sacramento County, there’s a law called Check Before You Burn that helps protect all of us from breathing bad air in the winter. From November through February, you may not be able to burn wood in your fireplace or use your family’s backyard fire pit on certain days. It’s the law, so ask your mom or dad to check before lighting a fire. (If you have a gas fireplace, you can use it whenever you’d like!) You can see if it’s okay to burn by visiting www.AirQuality.org or asking your parents to download the free Sacramento Region Air Quality app.
Do you have questions about wood smoke or staying warm in the winter? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.