Air district saves San Lorenzo Valley programs

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Air district saves San Lorenzo Valley programs

Postby Wilberforce » Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:44 pm

Air district saves San Lorenzo Valley programs
Wintertime SLV air pollution is top priority for district

By Kara Guzman @karambutan on Twitter
Posted: 06/20/2014 04:23:30 PM PDT0 Comments

SAN LORENZO VALLEY >> Amidst drastic budget cuts at the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District, two programs addressing San Lorenzo Valley smoke have emerged largely unscathed.

The district's budget was reduced 20 percent, not including staff and fixed asset costs. But a woodstove exchange program, which allows San Lorenzo Valley residents discounts for cleaner alternatives, and a yard waste drop-off program in Ben Lomond, to curtail backyard burns, survived the budget trims.

The reason, said Richard Stedman, executive director, is the San Lorenzo Valley's toxic levels of smoke, caused by outdated wood-burning stoves and the valley's topography.

"Our No. 1 priority is to find a solution to reduce pollution in that area during winter," Stedman said.

The past three winters combined, San Lorenzo Valley had 98 days when wood smoke pollution levels exceeded national standards, according to a June 18 report. Santa Cruz had none.

Outdated and improperly used stoves are the main issue, Stedman said. When wet, dirty wood is burned with too little ventilation, stoves turn into smoke bombs, he said.

"Only one or two woodstoves, if improperly operated, can smoke out an entire neighborhood," Stedman said.

Due to the valley's air quality, the Environmental Protection Agency may designate the district as "nonattainment," or failing to meet national standards, he said. The district may consider mandatory, instead of voluntary, spare the air days, when stove use is not allowed, he said.

Ben Lomond resident Tex Anderson, who runs a wood stove service company, said when he drives down Highway 9 on winter mornings, he sees a dozen instances of "gross polluters."

Instead of chimneys emitting white smoke, Anderson said, "You see a really heavy black smoke rolling out the top."

Anderson said he thinks only 30 to 40 outdated stoves in the valley are causing most of the problem. Those users should be targeted first, he said.

Ben Lomond resident Donna Smith said she checks the district's website twice a day for San Lorenzo Valley pollution levels and has taken 150 photos of a smoke blanketing the valley.

She said in the winter, she doesn't let her grandchildren go outdoors in the valley.

"If I didn't have my house almost paid for, I would sell my house. That's how bad the air is here," Smith said.

Smith said education should be the priority. Valley residents know the air is bad, but don't realize the health implications, she said.

"They just don't understand that it's toxic," she said.

This year the woodstove program funded 175 projects throughout the district, totaling $123,000. About 40 percent of the projects, worth $73,500, were in the San Lorenzo Valley.

Next year, the program was reduced to $72,500 for the San Lorenzo Valley only.

No programs were axed, but most reduced, due to lower revenues, said Stedman.

"I think everyone in government is trying to do more with less," Stedman said.

Residents interested in applying for the woodstove exchange program should call the district at 831-647-9411 in September.

source ... y-programs
• 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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