The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said the annual residential fireplace-use regulation program that reduces harmful airborne particulate pollution begins its ninth season Nov. 1.
Check Before You Burn, which runs from November through February each winter, determines when residential wood burning will add dangerous levels of particulate matter – tiny pieces of soot, ash, dust and other materials – to the Valley’s air, and prohibits the use of residential wood-burning devices. Wood-burning forecasts are issued by county each day, according to a news release.
The past two winters have been the cleanest on record for the air basin. Also, the air basin has been declared in attainment of the larger form of particulate matter, PM10.
High levels of particulate pollution can have serious health effects, including bronchitis, lung disease and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. Young children, elderly people and people with existing respiratory and coronary disease are especially vulnerable, according to the release
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There are two forecast levels, depending on air quality: “Wood burning Prohibited” and “Please Burn Cleanly.” When a prohibition is declared, burning any solid fuel in a residential fireplace or wood-burning device is not permitted and violations may result in fines. Backyard chimineas and fire pits are also subject to the prohibitions. There are two exemptions:
If the residence does not have access to natural-gas service, even if propane is
If burning solid fuel is the sole source of heat for the residence.
When burning is allowed, the Air District recommends using manufactured fire logs such as Duraflame or dry, seasoned wood to minimize emissions.
Daily wood-burning forecasts will be available by county each day at 4:30 p.m., beginning Monday at http://www.valleyair.org/aqinfo/WoodBurnpage.htm, by calling 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463) or by subscribing to the Air District’s daily air quality forecast at http://www.valleyair.org/lists/list.htm.