Take Back The Air
from wood smoke

Take Back The Air © 2012

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We are an all-volunteer grassroots organization that is dedicated to spreading the word about the severe health hazards of wood smoke that contaminate public spaces and neighborhoods nation-wide.

With skyrocketing asthma rates, and with asthma as the number one reason for school absenteeism, we recognize that cities have "accessibility requirements" that require the removal of all barriers to the use of public spaces for people with disabilities, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To persons with asthma and other breathing or cardiac disorders, wood smoke presents an actual physical barrier that prevents increasing number of people, especially those with asthma, from attending public events and using public spaces such as city parks, streets and sidewalks.

Facts about wood smoke:


These pollutants are especially hazardous to breathe, because they all contain many of the same toxic, cancer-causing and hormone disrupting chemicals that are in tobacco smoke, including lead, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and dioxins, to name a few.

They can infiltrate both private and public spaces, such as parks, streets and sidewalks, depriving others of the basic civil right to breathe clean air, even on their own properties. They are all a source of fine particulates and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs and fine particles are so miniscule that they escape filters and other containment.

Their toxic chemicals are also "bioaccumulative", meaning that they build up and do not break down in the environment or in our lungs, where they are left to do damage over time in our bodies and to new generations through our water, soil and food chain.

(And also in other suburbs, which would likely do the same if Minneapolis sets an example.)


  • That Minneapolis prohibit all outdoor recreational wood burning on private property, so that all residents can breathe freer on our own properties and in our own homes. It is reasonable that no burning restrictions should be mandated for at least some days of each week.
  • That Minneapolis prohibit wood burning in all public parks, to be consistent with the City's "smoke-free parks" ordinance.
  • Everything we know about cigarette smoke is true of wood smoke. But wood smoke is even more concentrated, travels farther and remains chemically active in our bodies up to 40 hours longer than tobacco smoke.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that cities remove all "barriers" that may prevent "access" to public spaces, for persons with disabilities. To people with asthma, heart disease, environmental sensitivities and other lung and breathing disorders, wood smoke presents an actual physical "barrier" that violates their civil rights to use public spaces and attend public events.
  • To place a moratorium on any new or remodeled restaurant wood grills, wood burning fire pits or pizza ovens. Berkeley, California, is one example of cities that disallow wood burning pizza ovens.

Ongoing Goals

  • To fight for cleaner air, starting in our own neighborhoods where we live and breathe.
  • To boost public awareness of the hazards of wood smoke, scented laundry products and lawn chemicals.
  • To reduce these pollutants as barriers to "accessibility" in schools, parks, other public spaces and on our own properties.
  • To urge neighbors and businesses to switch to healthier alternatives.
  • To connect with individuals and partner with organizations who may want to join our efforts and support clean air.
  • FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT US AT info@takebacktheair.com