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Patricia D., NY

For several years, my husband and I have attempted - without success - to obtain assistance in rectifying what has become a serious concern in our small city: pollution from wood-burning backyard firepits. By the standards of our city ordinances, most properties would not be permitted to use a firepit (or outdoor fireplace) as they are too small to not pose a fire danger. 

Yet countless residents burn on their properties, regardless of the ordinances or the hazards. Indeed, local firefighters have told us that they have been called to many fires that were started in this way. 

However, no one in city government seems to either enforce the ordinances or have the least concern for the other danger inherent in so much burning of wood in crowded areas - the toxic particulates that are released.  The addition of so much smoke to air that is already polluted from indoor fires in cooler weather and that is often quite warm, humid and oppressive in warmer temperatures, makes the air in many areas of the city extremely difficult to breathe, and so hazardous! 

Even with closed windows (and air conditioning in summer), the smoke comes into our home, and we are forced to inhale it.  I've developed a cough over time, likely due to the irritation to my nose and throat.  My husband takes medicine for allergie. Neither of us has ever smoked, but I fear what these particulates are doing . . . and having been exposed to benzene and toluene at work when I was young, I don't need to inhale more poison!