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Marin voices fewer complaints over winter fireplace smoke

PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:09 pm
by Wilberforce
Marin voices fewer complaints over winter fireplace smoke

Marin logged 306 complaints about wood smoke this winter, fourth in the Bay Area along with Sonoma County, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) 2011

By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal

Posted: 03/01/18, 4:32 PM PST | Updated: 1 day ago
13 Comments

Once the Bay Area leader in complaints about winter fireplace smoke, this season Marin was tied at fourth with its neighbor to the north, Sonoma.

Yet given its small comparative population, Marin’s number is relatively high, air officials said.

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 Wednesday.

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 in recent winters it slipped from the top spot.

This year the top distinction goes to Alameda with 367 complaints, then Contra Costa at 363 and Santa Clara at 362. Marin notched 306 complaints, along with Sonoma. In all, the air district received 2,177 wood smoke complaints from Bay Area residents. To date, 128 violations were issued to residents observed to be in violation of the burning rule, including 10 in Marin. Sonoma had the most violations at 38.

“Marin’s numbers may be down a bit because we had a program to change out polluting fireplaces for cleaner-burning devices,” said Kristine Roselius, spokeswoman for the air district.

That said, Marin had a high number of calls given its relatively small population compared to other counties.

“Marin County has a number of valleys in West Marin, and when the air is stagnant the bad air can build up there because some people still burn because there is no natural gas.”

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. 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.

While the spare the air season is over, people still should keep an eye on when they burn when it’s dry out.

“Despite the recent rain, dry, still winter weather has become the norm in the Bay Area, which significantly increases wood smoke pollution health impacts throughout the region,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, said in a statement. “Cleaner heating solutions are needed to protect the health of our families and neighbors inside and outside our homes.”

source
http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20180 ... /180309986

related PDF
Winter Spare the Air season comes to an end
http://www.baaqmd.gov/~/media/files/com ... .pdf?la=en

related PDF
Southern California’s Unusually Dry Winter Brought Record Number of No-Burn Days Due to this winter’slack of rain and warm weather conditions
http://www.aqmd.gov/docs/default-source ... 1-2018.pdf