Ukrainian-born Svetlana has to sleep with a gas mask similar to those worn in wartime just because her neighbor heats his house with coal – which is legal in the area
One woman has told how she has to wear a gas mask to sleep because her small town is “like a gas chamber.”
Ukrainian-born Svetlana, who lives in Westport, New Zealand with her husband Brian Cohen, was subjected to horrifying experiences after a coal fire caught her.
And it was started by their own neighbor a year ago.
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The engineer told the Stuff website: “Our little town is like a gas chamber now.
“Everywhere in the city you inhale toxic smoke when shopping or walking.
“I can’t breathe, I’m coughing, my throat is burning and I have pains in my chest – that’s not how I live my life.
“I have to wear a gas mask as soon as our neighbor comes home from work and lights his fire.”
Having recently moved to the area, they have neglected to research the regulations on coal fires – which are non-existent in the area.
Therefore, her neighbor may light the fire if he so desires.
And on the west coast of New Zealand, where they live, around 34.3% of homes are heated in this way.
A trailer load costs around £70, an average home only needs two trailers to heat a house in winter.
However, Brian Cohen spoke to the neighbor about the damage the fire was doing to his wife’s health, but the fires broke out again two days later.
He said vehemently, “Two days later he lit his coal fire and I was really upset and even threatened to go over and bang his head in, it just made me really angry.”
The threat resulted in him being warned by the police.
He added: “We, as residents of New Zealand, have the right to breathe clean air.
“It says so in the Clean Air Act.
“Why don’t we have the same rights as other regions in New Zealand?”
He had also contacted the local council, who can do nothing as it is not illegal to light charcoal fires in this area.
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