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Mailbag: Fire pits are a 'public health hazard'

October 24, 2012

Re. "Wu: Fire rings are a political boomerang," Oct. 14:

Jack Wu, haven't you read the letters?

How can you invoke the words of Albert Einstein while you ignore the words of highly credentialed wood-smoke toxicology experts?

I have a feeling you are behind in your fact checking. A number of experts have told the California Coastal Commission the scientific facts about wood smoke. You might want to stop ranting and start reading. You can find some of these letters, and more, on the city's web page about the fire rings. Look for "Correspondence Received."

In the words of Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford University's director of the Atmosphere and Energy Program and a senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment, "There is no low threshold level to the health effects (including mortality) of small air pollution particles … short-term exposure has been linked to increases in hospitalizations, emergency-room visits and mortality … fires on beaches appear to be an unnecessary public health hazard."

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Jean Ospital, health effects officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, told the commission, "AQMD staff understands and shares your concerns regarding the particulate matter exposures caused by burning wood in the beach fire pits in Newport Beach … in addition to being a significant contributor to ambient fine particulate levels, smoke from wood and biomass burning are associated with adverse health effects."

Wu, you claim your previous columns "masterfully" contend that anti-fire-pit people don't like gangbangers. Perhaps you should first master the research and understand how serious these health risks really are. Wood smoke does not distinguish between race, creed, political affiliation or socio-economic status. Wood smoke doesn't know if you're a gangbanger or a conservative columnist.

Barbara A. Peters

Newport Beach

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Obama banner 'tasteless'

I find the big banner on Councilman Gary Monahan's restaurant and bar that reads "Beat Obama" extremely tasteless. Whether he, or anyone else likes it, Obama is the president of our United States of America. What has happened to respect for the office of president, no matter who holds it?

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