Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is Soft on Wood Burning. Oct. 28, 2007

[Watch this page for more timely commentary in the days to come. As it is changed an * will be added after the title so that you can keep track of which version you have seen.]

The BAAQMD 2007 Wood Burning Proposal is a regulatory puzzle. Section One is excellent:

"Curtail operation of any wood burning device when air quality levels are projected to reach unhealthy levels"

That says it all. Stop Burning Wood! This has been a needed regulation that Burning Issues/Clean Air Revival, Inc.has fought to put in place for more than 20 years. Many lives would have been saved and untold suffering, illness, hospitalizations (and moving) would have been avoided. We are pleased that Jenny Bard of the American Lung Association has joined our effort."San Joaquin Air district does not include an exemption and we will oppose an exemption as well" Jenny Bard, ALA Oct. 2007

What exemption? The rest of the proposal is a lullaby for industry and wood burners. In this cold cruel world they will always be above the law and their future in wood burning is alight with possibilities. Read on:

The Rest of the Proposed Regulation: Just as The Hearth, Patio, Barbeque Industry Wrote It!

· Restrict visible emission from wood burning (for no longer than six minutes for start up, and no more than 20 minutes over four hour period).

· Require cleaner burning technology and public awareness information when wood burning devices are sold, transferred or installed

· Prohibit the burning of garbage and other inappropriate types of materials

· Require that only dry seasoned wood be sold and that wood have a label listing moisture content

Additionally, the regulation would:
· Allow exemptions for residences that use wood as sole source of heat, and have no natural gas availability


What? They don't know about propane? The problem is that this proposal does not go far enough. Section One would be enforceable. As the rest of the proposal reads it is not. Any proposal must include enforceable protection for all victims of wood burners.

As researchers we know that there is a small main set  (fewer than 10%) of dedicated constant wood burners who endanger their neighbors. They proudly announce that they have no intention of using or repairing their central heating systems. They proudly announce that they are the true patriots, eschewing foreign oil for all time to come. "I just got my 3 cords of wood delivered." was a boast heard in Santa Rosa just last week.


Burning Issues/Clean Air Revival, Inc. has consistently opposed the proposition that switching to EPA certified stoves will solve the problems of wood smoke. Please look at the Burning Issues page devoted to the report mentioned here (visit A key quote from the study leader follows:

In the EPA's own words: "In localities where wood is the predominant house heating fuel, wood stoves have been shown to contribute as much as 80% of the ambient PM10 (fine particle) concentrations during winter months. This study shows that the new technology stoves do not achieve the emission reduction expected. Some models were experiencing degraded emission control performance after only a few months use. "the relatively poor showing of the control technologies was very disappointing."

(In-House Performance of New Technology Wood stoves, EPA/600/D-90/026, Robert C. McCrillis, EPA/600/D-90/026)

The summary is rather cryptic and says that the new stoves are better.  You need to really look at Tables 3-13, 3-14, and 3-15

Our question is why do supposedly responsible people continue to back cleanup proposals that recommend switching to EPA approved stoves? In fact, why does the EPA approve these stoves?

"The air district has set aside $500,000 in grant funds to help people change out polluting devices for cleaner burning ones."  What? Cleaner Burning? How about cleaner fueled? This is an industry subsidy to help them sell more stuff. But the idea is to get clean air we need fewer "burning devices". How about subsidizing the solar industry? That would really be patriotic! 


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