Category Archives: Air

Retrospective: 6 years ago, West Chester voters approved a Community Bill of Rights

As the world struggles to salvage its environment, let’s remember that in November 2015, West Chester voters amended their Home Rule Charter by adding a new section, #904, under the heading of Community Bill of Rights.

The added wording asserts the people’s Right of Local Community Self-Government, Right to Assert the Right of Self-Government, Right to Water, Right to Clean Air, Right to Peaceful Enjoyment of Home, and Right to a Sustainable Energy Future, and furthermore the Rights of Ecosystems and Natural Communities. Ecosystems and natural communities.

It goes on to ban, in West Chester Borough, extracting natural gas, depositing any fracking wastewater or other fracking product, and creating fossil fuel, nuclear, or other non-sustainable energy production and delivery infrastructures.

The effort, involving also the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and a group of local residents, was led by environmentalist Dianne Herrin, who went on to be elected Mayor and now represents the 156th district in the Pennsylvania House.

From the November 2015 press release by CELDF, headquartered in western PA and a leader in the Community Rights and Rights of Nature (or environmental personhood) movement:

West Chester Voters Adopt Community Rights Charter Amendment Banning Frack Wastewater, Pipelines, and Drilling

Join growing numbers of municipalities across the U.S. that are prohibiting fossil fuel activities by asserting community rights

West Chester Borough, Chester County, Pennsylvania — November 4, 2015

With over 73% of the vote, the people of West Chester Borough adopted an amendment to their home rule charter, constitutionalizing a Community Bill of Rights, and protecting those rights by prohibiting fracking and its associated activities – including pipelines and wastewater disposal. They join the growing numbers of communities across Pennsylvania and the U.S. that are codifying their rights to clean air, water, and local self-government, and are banning fracking activities as a violation of those rights.

The amendment was proposed through a petitioning process conducted by residents of the Borough, and led by West Chester Community Rights Alliance (WCCRA). The local group requested educational and legal assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in grassroots organizing and drafting the charter initiative….

keep reading at CELDF

The lowdown on wood-burning stoves: They are dangerous!

Those of us who long for the simple rural life may wish to believe that burning wood in our homes is healthful. In fact, the resulting smoke reduces air quality and threatens the health of neighbors downwind of our chimneys and also in our own homes.

An article in The Guardian by Damian Carrington, “Wood burners triple harmful indoor air pollution, study finds” (Dec. 18, 2020), warns that:

“Wood burners triple the level of harmful pollution particles inside homes and should be sold with a health warning, say scientists, who also advise that they should not be used around elderly people or children.”

Especially when stove doors are opened to add wood, particles in smoke enter the living space and are breathed into the lungs, from where they are diffused through the body.

Not only that, but wood smoke “also contains carcinogenic chemicals including benzene and formaldehyde.”

We might think that wood smoke is natural and harmless, but “There is no reason to believe that particulate matter from wood-burning stoves is less toxic than that from other sources, such as combustion of fossil fuels.”

And open-air fires in fireplaces are even worse, for both inside and outside air quality.

See details and links in The Guardian.

And then there is the problem of disposing of ashes, which may still be live and cause smoke or fire; and excessive heat can degrade structural wood near the stove and increase the likelihood of a house fire.