Burning anything impacts health and the environment. Burning wood is even more polluting than fossil fuels.

Enlarged view of lung tissue showing the diffe...

Enlarged view of lung tissue showing the difference between healthy lung and COPD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most environmentally friendly way to enjoy the outdoors is to avoid any recreational burning.  But compared to burning wood, cleaner alternatives emit far fewer fine particles and are the lesser of two evils for urban environments, as they allow neighbours to breathe much more easily without smoke pollution from a wood fire.

Switch to gas firepits and save your neighbour’s health http://wp.me/p3FmxX-3m

Letter by Cathy Baiton, printed in the Calgary Herald (calgaryherald.com) LettersJune 20, 2013

Re: “Firepits are fun,” Letter, June 17.

Smoke of any kind is utterly unromantic. Air pollution is not cool, and asthma attacks are not fun. Neither is living with a condition like chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, while a selfish neighbour sits outside lighting wood logs for entertainment.

Increased hospital admissions and premature deaths associated with wood smoke pollution point to the grave inconsistency of banning outdoor tobacco smoke, while ignoring wood smoke, which is just as harmful, if not more so.

For too long, we have heard people say a ban is not the answer. Why? Is the answer more smoke? Not long ago, people were waffling on the issue of smoke in restaurants. What a relief we can now dine in smoke-free comfort.

How much longer will children and others sensitive to wood smoke have to suffer, before all Albertans are finally assured the right to smoke-free air in their own backyards and homes? With cleaner alternatives like gas firepits available, the notion of urban wood campfires seems an anachronistic absurdity.

I truly hope they will soon be only an unpleasant memory, in all communities where they are not already duly prohibited.