Burning Issues

> The original article can be found on SFGate.com
> here:
> Saturday, December 15, 2001 (SF Chronicle)
> Berkeley council bans new fireplaces, wood-burning
> pizza ovens/Law intended to control smoke pollution
> Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer
> There'll be no chimney for Santa in homes of the
> future in Berkeley,
> thanks to a ban on new fireplaces that may impose
> the strictest
> wood-burning regulations in the Bay Area.
> Likewise no more wood-fired pizza ovens or
> mesquite grills in restaurants
> in the city famous for its "gourmet ghetto."
> Intended to reduce health risks from polluted
> air, the ban applies only to
> fireplaces and commercial open-fire appliances that
> are new, or to
> substantial remodels of existing ones. Otherwise,
> existing ones are
> exempt, as are new wood stoves and other appliances
> that meet strict U.S.
> Environmental Protection Agency standards.
> The ordinance, a compromise that passed its first
> reading this week and is
> up for its second reading on Tuesday, left many on
> both sides of the
> debate unhappy.
> "It's mostly a symbolic gesture," said Berkeley
> environmentalist Jamie
> Caseber, a member of the Community Environmental
> Advisory Commission,
> which debated the issue for nearly two years before
> recommending the
> ordinance adopted by the City Council. New houses in
> built-up Berkeley are
> rare, he said.
> "It's just a first step in a hopefully organized
> strategy to control wood
> smoke," said Caseber, one of five Bay Area
> individuals named this year as
> Clean Air Champions, an award jointly sponsored by
> the EPA, the Bay Area
> Air Quality Management District and other
> organizations. "Wood smoke is
> highly dangerous to people's health."
> Michael Gersick of the California Hearths and
> Home Association, an
> industry group, also assailed the Berkeley move, for
> opposite reasons.
> "In its typical rush to be at the forefront of
> social-improvement
> legislation, Berkeley has swallowed a deeply flawed
> series of assumptions
> and outrageous extrapolations," he said.
> Gersick criticized studies that according to the
> air quality district show
> a correlation between wood smoke and disease,
> particularly emergency room
> visits for asthma sufferers and deaths from heart
> attack.
> Berkeley's law may be the most stringent among
> the 16 other Bay Area
> cities and counties that have adopted some form of
> wood-smoke regulations,
> mostly in the past two years.
> Berkeley's regulations have been inserted into
> the building code,
> providing an enforcement tool that other
> jurisdictions typically lack,
> said Nabil Al- Hadithy, manager of the city's Toxics
> Management Division.
> Tommie Mayfield of the air quality district said
> Dublin is the only other
> city she knows of with restrictions in the building
> code. But Dublin's
> law, unlike Berkeley's, does not restrict commercial
> wood-burning.
> Air district studies show wood-burning can
> contribute as much as 80
> percent of winter pollution particles in some parts
> of the Bay Area.
> Mayfield urged those with existing fireplaces to
> minimize pollution by
> burning only dry hardwoods and following other tips
> from the district's
> guidelines, available at www.sparetheair.com.
> E-mail Charles Burress at
> cburress@sfchronicle.com.

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