Hard as it may be to believe, the fireplace — long considered a trophy, particularly in a city like New York — is acquiring a social stigma. Among those who aspire to be environmentally responsible, it is joining the ranks of bottled water and big houses.
“The smoke from a fire smells very nice,” said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “But it can cause a lot of harm.” The tiny particles, she said, “can cause inflammation and illness, and can cross into the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks” as well as worsening other conditions.
Or as Starre Vartan, a 33-year-old blogger who goes by the name Eco-Chick, put it: “Any time you are burning wood or cow dung, you’ll be creating pollution. It’s like junk food: if you do it once a month, then who cares? But if it’s something you do every day, it’s important that you mitigate it somehow. It’s a hazard.”
A hazard. Well, yeah, according to the pointy-head types... disregarding the ridiculous cow dung statement, coz I've yet to encounter an American who burns cow dung in their fireplace:
Wood smoke contains some of the same particulates as cigarette smoke, said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, the chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, as well as known carcinogens like aldehydes; it has also been linked to respiratory problems in young children.
“We now know from lots of studies that wood smoke is very, very irritating,” Dr. Edelman said. “It contains a lot of irritating gases and it also contains damaging particulate matter. It’s probably not good for anybody, and it’s especially bad for anybody who has a chronic respiratory problem.” So the association strongly advises people not to use the traditional fireplace, he said.
Amazing. There doesn't seem to be one single simple joy in life that is immune from attack by the Perpetually Offended class. I dunno about you, Gentle Reader, but a fireplace was a highly desirable amenity back when I was in the property owning game. Witness, yet again:
The first pic is my house in Ferndale, Michigan, the second is my house in Perinton, NY (New Year's Eve get-together, 1999). I have some experience with "clean" fireplace alternatives... like this, in my post-divorce apartment in Webster, NY:
That's a gas-fired fireplace and you'll notice the fire ain't lit. It rarely was lit because it just wasn't the same... the flame quality wasn't there, there were no audible snap-crackle-pops that make a fire viscerally rewarding, and above all... there wasn't the pungent and magnificent aroma of burning hardwood. You'll note the builders DID include a "fireplace" in my apartment because that was something everyone wanted in their living space. What the builders failed to consider were the aesthetics... and a gas fireplace is but a pale shadow of the Real Deal.
I'm almost glad to be old and on my way out because the current generation seems Hell-bent on destroying ALL of life's simple pleasures and this is yet another brick in the wall. Who among us is gonna yell "STOP!!"? That's a serious question.