Q. With the advent of winter, many of us are thinking wood stoves. I recall reading some time ago that it was only acceptable to burn the black and white sections of the newspaper, leaving the comics and advertising inserts to be disposed of in another fashion. Is that still true?
— Irv West, Thurman
A. Wood stoves differ in design and in some cases have pollution-control devices attached, so there is a need to read the directions that come with each unit as it relates to fuel source, said Glens Falls Fire Department Assistant Chief John Ellingsworth.
“We always tell people to follow the manufacturer’s instructions,” Ellingsworth said.
Ellingsworth, citing several manufacturer’s operating instructions, said one notes that colored paper or “any material other than newspaper or cord wood” used to start a fire could cause damage to a wood stove with a catalytic combustor.
Other issues with glossy or colored paper could involve air pollution and toxicity, or poor burning performance, he said.
In addition, Ellingsworth cited guidelines listed on EPA and Cornell Cooperative Extension websites.
The Environmental Protection Agency states in its “Burn Wise” recommendations that “plastics, foam and the colored ink on magazines, boxes and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned. They may also damage your wood-burning appliance.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension, which lists “Best Burn Practices” on one of its websites, says this: “It cannot be stressed enough, so we’ll say it again: Except for a small amount of newspaper (no colored, slick inserts!) to start the fire, never burn anything other than seasoned firewood in a wood stove. Junk mail, bills, glossy magazine pages, and wet or rotting wood may seem like reasonably good fuel, but they all burn poorly and release high levels of particulate matter, which contains dangerous particles that can enter your lungs but can’t escape. They can cause a host of health problems, including asthma and other respiratory diseases and cardiac issues and they can even damage your immune system.”
Q. At the Open Door Mission in Glens Falls, where people are invited to have a meal if needed, are people of all religions welcome to eat?
— Anonymous mailed-in question
A. The Open Door Mission, which operates a meal site on Lawrence Street in Glens Falls, is open to anyone regardless of religion, said Rebecca Endieveri, the Open Door’s director.
“There is no criteria,” she said. “You could be the president of the United States or you could be homeless. You don’t have to tell us your financial situation. Anyone who wants to eat is welcome to come in.”
Established as a Christian ministry, the Open Door Mission is not affiliated with a specific church, although “churches in the area support it,” Endieveri said.
She said prayer or Bible study sometimes occurs on site, and a church pastor may come in and read a passage. But the Open Door Mission tries to be inclusive, she said, noting a recent time when someone having a meal delivered a Jewish dinner prayer.
Here is the Open Door Mission’s policy on whom it serves: “The Open Door Mission serves the needs of the poor, under-served and homeless primarily through the provision of nutritious meals in a welcoming environment. We also distribute food and other services and referrals. Services are free of charge to all people, regardless of race, gender, gender preference, sexual orientation, national origin, creed or religion.”
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