In Spotlights

This month’s spotlight is on Families for Clean Air.  A big thanks to WEN member Patti Weisselberg, who suggested we get in touch with executive director Susan Goldsborough, to find out more about the important work done by this local non-profit.

Families for Clean Air was formed by a group of concerned parents in the San Francisco Bay Area who felt that many parents were simply unaware of the consequences of wood smoke pollution.  The organization strives to educate people about the health dangers associated with wood burning.  On the next Spare the Air Day this fall/winter, keep in mind the efforts undertaken by this group to make the air we breathe a littler bit cleaner and safer.

What is the mission of Families for Clean Air?

Our mission is to protect the public’s health from residential wood smoke pollution through advocacy, education, and community involvement.

What is the history of your organization?

Families for Clean Air was founded in 2006 to work on the passage of a Bay Area Air Quality Management District regulation to ameliorate residential wood smoke pollution which is the largest source of harmful air pollution in the Bay Area from November through March.

What are the current top priorities for Families for Clean Air?

Currently we are concerned with educating the public about the public health hazards of wood burning. Wood smoke is 12 times more carcinogenic than the same amount of cigarette smoke, is the second largest source of dioxin in the Bay Area, and is a significant factor in global warming.  People don’t realize that heating with wood is not a sustainable act.

Our website notes that hundreds of studies have now documented the harmful health effects of wood smoke pollution. Yet many people remain unaware of the facts―or refuse to accept them. The current situation is similar to the way we used to treat second-hand tobacco smoke―by the time the public finally accepted just how hazardous second-hand smoke was, there had already been incalculable damage to human life.

The fine particle pollutants from wood burning are so small that they infiltrate even the most well-insulated and weather-stripped homes. Scientific studies have shown that particle pollution levels inside homes reach up to 70% of the pollution levels outdoors.

What is one unknown/interesting fact about Families for Clean Air?

We are helping people with wood smoke problems all over the U.S. and abroad. Our website and printed materials have been used by the EPA, air districts, two counties, and a number of cities.