The fight for a wood-burning fireplace

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The fight for a wood-burning fireplace

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:31 pm

The fight for a wood-burning fireplace

“It’s pretty nasty stuff. This stuff really is bad news.”

By Sheila Pell, Feb. 23, 2017

Several south coast counties restrict wood burning fireplaces, but San Diego isn’t one of them. Not yet.

“Although it is not prohibited, wood burning in the home is a growing source of air pollution in San Diego County,” warns the Air Pollution Control District’s website.

This month, Del Mar’s city council had to decide the issue after a homeowner appealed a decision of the design review board that allowed her to install two fireplaces as part of a remodel — if they were gas-operated; Bernadette Anderson wanted them to be wood-burning. The board had said no, citing local code: “The design will adversely affect the health or safety of the neighborhood.”

Tiny particles in wood smoke can enter the lungs and bloodstream and are linked to a greater risk of health problems such as asthma and heart attack.

“It’s pretty nasty stuff. This stuff really is bad news,” said Del Mar deputy mayor Dwight Worden at a public hearing on February 6.

Anderson’s architect, Don Countryman, attended the hearing to defend the units, which are EPA Phase 2 qualified and 70 percent cleaner than traditional fireplaces. He said he hoped the city would “put the dirty fireplaces out” and embrace the improved fireplace technology.

But the design-review board had noted that “qualified” did not mean “specifically EPA approved.” (Wood-burning appliances qualified under the EPA’s Voluntary Fireplace Programs aren’t certified per EPA’s Wood Heater New Source Performance Standard.)

South Coast counties that limit wood burning — Orange County and portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties — don’t allow EPA Phase 2 Qualified open-hearth wood-burning fireplaces to be installed in an existing home.

The only wood-burning devices that can be added are U.S. EPA certified inserts/stoves, pellet heaters, and masonry heaters. Gas-fueled fireplaces are allowed.

According to state officials, most woodstoves and fireplaces release far more air pollution, indoors and out, than heaters using other fuels. The EPA, however, left fireplaces out of new rules in 2016 on wood-burning devices, since there are fewer of them.

But San Diego County does light up. A study of fireplace smoke in Escondido found it a source of air pollutants that are much higher in winter, when cold air and mountainous terrain trap the particles. The study ruled out traffic as a source. (Escondido’s Adopted Climate Action Plan discusses wood burning appliances but doesn’t call for restrictions).

Don Countryman argued that the location of Anderson’s home limits harm to neighbors. And they won’t be burning year-round. “These will only be in use for maybe three months each year, and on occasion.”

Councilmember Dave Druker didn’t agree that fireplaces are used only in winter. When it gets foggy in June, people have their fireplace going, he said. “It’s not just a winter deal.”

In fact, the city had made wood-burning fireplaces legal, boardmember Scott MacDonald said in January when they discussed the appeal. Since they had approved others, they couldn’t say no this time. Boardmember Beth Levine countered, saying the city never made wood-burning fireplaces legal; it had “remained silent on the topic.”

On February 6, the council granted Anderson’s appeal but concluded that it’s not the end of the discussion. They need to “figure out a policy on fireplaces.”

Druker said he was “worried about going the next step on this. We need to understand what other cities are doing,” he said. “It’s going to be very, very difficult, I think.”

Worden set out the three options the city has going forward. They could say no wood-burning fireplaces; allow those that use certain technology; or, no regulation. The 70 percent reduction in emissions that Anderson’s fireplaces would achieve may not be good enough — it’s not zero, Worden said. However, based on his research, the system is the best technology available for wood-burning fireplaces.

“So, if that’s not good enough, we've banned [wood-burning] fireplaces...because there is no better technology.”

source ... fireplace/


Marin surrenders lead in wood smoke complaints

By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal

Posted: 03/05/17, 1:55 PM PST | Updated: 2 hrs ago

Marin’s heavy rains this winter might have kept a lid on the number of complaints about wood smoke on non-burn days.

Since 2007, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has cracked down on people who burn wood on days when weather conditions make it likely smoke will hang in the air and cause particulate pollution, making it difficult for some people to breathe. The use of fireplaces and other burning devices are prohibited when a “spare the air” alert is called.

The latest winter regulatory period started Nov. 1 and ended Tuesday. This winter’s storms and winds greatly curbed the number of “spare the air” days — just seven were called. The Bay Area did not exceed federal health standard for fine particulates on any day during the period.

During the 2015-16 winter regulatory season, the air district declared just one “spare the air” alert. The prior winter had 23 and the winter before that 30.

“Conditions this year are wetter,” said Ralph Borrmann, spokesman for the air district, explaining the good air conditions. The Marin Municipal Water District has counted more than 80 inches of rain since July 1, one of the wettest periods in the last century.

During the first seven years of the “spare the air” program, Marin led Bay Area counties in the number of complaints made to the air district by citizens who suspected illegal burning. But that ended this season.

This year the distinction goes to Santa Clara County, which had 434 complaints, followed by Alameda at 277, then Marin at 231. Marin had 155 complaints last year.

Contra Costa had 208 complaints, followed by San Mateo with 130 and Sonoma with 128.

Where access to natural gas is limited and people rely on wood for heat, such as in Woodacre, the district allows exemptions for families and businesses. But a new rule requires those burning devices to be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About 200 homes in Marin claim the exemption.

Air district officials say that on bad-air nights during the winter, smoke from 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area accounts for 33 percent of the particulate matter that pollutes the air, outpacing cars, which account for 23 percent of the pollution.

Particulate matter measures about one-seventh the diameter of a human hair and can pass through the nose and throat and lodge deep in the lungs, causing potential health problems.

Those who are caught violating the air rule can be assessed a $100 penalty. Each violation has to be confirmed by an inspector from the air district. A second-time burn offender will face a $500 fine.

Those who are cited can get out of paying by going to “smoke school.” That requires enrolling in an online course that takes about 30 minutes to complete.

This year, 91 violations were issued to Bay Area residents.

“Heavy winter rains helped clean harmful wood smoke from the air this season,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district. “Wood smoke pollution is dangerous in our neighborhoods and so we need residents to stop burning wood and consider replacing older, more polluting fireplaces with cleaner heating options that will benefit families and neighbors.”

source ... complaints

Cumberland bans backyard burning

by Michael Briones - Comox Valley Echo
Comox Valley posted Mar 2, 2017 at 9:00 AM

It's official. Yard waste fires are no longer permitted in the Village of Cumberland.

Cumberland council approved 3-1 an amendment to the village's Fire Protection Services and Regulation Bylaw, No. 988, 2014 that prohibits yard waste fires.

Council solicited feedback from the community on the proposed ban through an online survey. Out of 276 responses, 53 per cent favoured the prohibition while 47 per cent preferred no changes to the status quo.

The primary reason local residents support the ban is due to village's poor air quality, which negatively affects public health.

Councillor Gwyn Sproule understands the rationale behind the ban but she has expressed the concerns that it may not be fair to residents who own large properties.

She did not support the ban.

"Council, I think, really needs to focus on enforcement of clean burning, whether it's yard waste, weenie roasts or wood stove," said Sproule. "And we need to educate residents on how to do this."

Sproule said last year around 80 permits were issued and she feels this would be a better way than a complete ban. Guidelines can be provided when residents apply for permits.

"It would be a simple process to pull the permit if a resident does not comply with clean burning rules," said Sproule. "It is possible to have clean burning outdoors. It's not all wood burning that needs to be banned. It's the burning of wet wood, wet leaves, garbage, and building construction materials."

Sproule also wanted a smaller window for burning bigger fires. She suggested it take place all of March but not in April and all throughout November but not October.

Mayor Leslie Baird indicated there are a lot of residents who are disappointed but throughout the years, she said, it's been proven to be the correct decision.

"Now, I believe it's the right thing to do to stop the backyard burning," said Baird. "I talked to many mayors from other communities and they do not allow it. It comes with growth."

Councillor Jesse Ketler suggested that the village could add an educational component that emphasizes clean burning with wood stoves.

Cumberland has invited Vancouver Island Health Authority's medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns and Earl Plain, an air quality meteorologist to talk about air pollution and the risk it poses to public health. Baird said she is looking forward to their presentations.

A new health study of three communities in the province found that rising concentrations of fine particulate air pollution caused by wood burning can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks in people 65 and older.

During the cold season, when pollution from wood stoves is at its highest, the risk of heart attacks among subjects of 65 years and older increased by 19 per cent.

The Health Canada funded study looked at air quality measurements and data from hospital admissions in Courtenay/Comox, Prince George and Kamloops.

In the winter heating months, Courtenay/Comox had the highest level of fine particulates and the highest percentage of wood smoke in those particulates.

"This study reinforces what we already know about wood smoke. It puts people's health—and lives—at risk," said Jennell Ellis, a spokesperson for Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley, a local citizen's group. "Our local and provincial representatives need to stop debating the issue and start acting to get rid of harmful wood smoke. They are neglecting their duty to protect the health and lives of their citizens."

In addition to using data from fixed-site air quality monitors, the researchers set up eight temporary monitors in each study area.

"Seniors throughout our community face an increased risk of heart attack when there is wood smoke in their area. And every fireplace and wood stove contributes to that increased risk," said Ellis. "Moving to cleaner heating options can literally help save lives."

This winter, Courtenay has been over BC's 24-hour Air Quality Objective for fine particulates on 19 days and four air quality advisories have been issued for the Comox Valley. Last winter Courtenay exceeded the same objective on 21 days and had more days under an air quality advisory.

"Our area is one of the smokiest areas in the province in the winter," added Ellis. "But all communities with wood smoke should be concerned about the results of this study. There can be an increased risk of heart attacks even if an area doesn't exceed air quality standards or experience air advisories."

The study, Biomass Burning as a Source of Ambient Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Acute Myocardial Infarction, was released online earlier this month by the journal Epidemiology. ... 98888.aspx



Bay Area Winter Spare the Air Season Ends With 91 Violations

March 4, 2017 13:00 pm · 19 comments

The Bay Area Spare the Air season ended on the last day of February with 1,542 complaints and 91 violations of a wood smoke rule, Bay Area Air Quality District officials said today.

First-time violators were given the option of paying a $100 fine or taking a wood smoke awareness class.

People who are issued a second violation must pay a $500 fine and fines are currently higher for subsequent violations.

Seven Winter Spare the Air Alerts were issued this season, which runs from November to February.

During no day of the season did pollution from fine particulates, such as wood smoke, exceed federal health standards, according to air district officials.

Air quality benefited from abundant rain this winter as rain and wind help clean the air.

Air district officials are urging residents to replace older, more polluting fireplaces with cleaner heating options because wood smoke is harmful, especially to people with respiratory illnesses.

Wood smoke pollution has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, air district officials said.

Air district rules require residents who use a fireplace or outdoor fire pit to burn dry, seasoned firewood and avoid burning garbage, leaves or other material that creates excessive smoke.

source ... iolations/
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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