No one likes to get the bureaucratic run-around when they call on their government at the state or local level about a problem.

So when the American Lung Association in Maine began getting calls from frustrated families who could not get a straight answer to their complaint about a potential lung health hazard we took notice.

The common problem these families were facing was wood smoke from a neighbor’s outdoor wood furnace coming into their home.

You would expect that there would be some agreed-upon process for resolving this kind of problem. If a neighbor’s septic tank is overflowing onto your lawn there are certain specific actions that rapidly take place regardless of where you live in the state. This not the case with air pollution.

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, introduced a bill to address this problem. He had constituents who had experienced the frustrating process of trying to get help.

The bill passed the Health and Human Services Committee with a bipartisan unanimous vote of support. It was passed by the House and the Senate, but vetoed by the governor. Since it did not get the two-thirds support in the House, it is dead.


The problem, however, will not go away by ignoring it. Contrary to so many inaccurate news reports about this bill, it was not about studying the health effects of wood smoke. Its purpose was to figure out how to avoid the bureaucratic runaround at the state and local levels when the homes of Maine families are filling with wood smoke.

The American Lung Association in Maine would like to thank reporter Susan Cover for her stories about this bill. They were well-written and accurate. We wish that other news reports had followed her lead.

Edward F. Miller, senior vice president

Health Promotion and Public Policy

American Lung Association, New England


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