Wood-burning ovens contribute to air pollution

Organic farm project a great idea . . . but

Letter by Cathy Baiton, printed in the Lethbridge Herald (lethbridgeherald.com)  Letters – July 20, 2010

It was interesting to read about construction of the organic farm store featured in Caroline Zentner’s July 15 article, “A Haven for Healthy Living.”  The great ideas and effort behind the project sound commendable; with the exception, I’d suggest, of the wood-fired oven.

While they have become more popular, wood-burning ovens, like wood stoves, are not actually environmentally friendly – more information is available from sites such as BurningIssues.org.  The American Lung Association officially recommends that people avoid burning wood and choose cleaner alternatives whenever possible.  Some progressive areas are now phasing out wood burning appliance use to help reduce pollution.

Even with new wood burning technology and careful burning technique, all wood burning creates more pollution than cleaner burning fuels.  The harmful particulate matter in wood smoke emissions makes wood burning a health issue as well.  The impact is greatest in residential areas, where pollution from wood burning can make the air unsafe for many to breathe – as anyone whose health has been affected by neighbourhood fire pit or wood stove smoke can attest.

A wood-burning oven can be a choice for a rural area away from other homes.  But I hope the article’s favourable mention of it won’t lead some readers to overlook the environmental and health impacts that wood burning appliances can have, especially when used within residential areas of a growing city like Lethbridge.