Weather plays tricks on wood-burning restrictions

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Weather plays tricks on wood-burning restrictions

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:21 pm

Weather plays tricks on wood-burning restrictions

By Deborah Schoch | January 27, 2012

California is famous nationally for combating air pollution and its ill effects on public health.

Much of the state is also touted for balmy winter weather and blue skies. Ironically, sometimes those sunny, mild days can produce unhealthy air.

Take this winter, when residents at two ends of the state--the Los Angeles area and Chico—are navigating new rules governing when they can fire up wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.

On days when the air is so dirty that it’s unhealthy, regulators in both regions ban the burning of wood indoors. The system started for the first time Nov. 1 under new rules in Chico and in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

So far, nothing is going as planned.

Down south, clean air officials tested their new program last year and geared up to enforce the rule this winter. They anticipated 10 to 15 “no burn” days through the end of February.

To their surprise, the air has been so clean that they have not issued a single “no burn” order.

But 500 miles north in Chico, unusually dirty air already has prompted 23 “no burn” days.

The contrast underscores how weather—in this case, rain, or the lack of it—can have a direct impact on human health.

Fine particles in wood smoke can inflame lung tissue and worsen chronic diseases such as asthma, especially among the elderly, as reported in a series of 2010 articles produced by the Chico Enterprise-Record and the Center for Health Reporting.

That is a worry in the Los Angeles area, where wood smoke, much of it from residential fireplaces, adds to the particle pollution created by cars, trucks, trains and ships.

So air regulators launched a mandatory “Check Before You Burn” program this winter in all of Orange County and the non-desert areas of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, overseen by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

To encourage fireplace owners to switch to gas, the district’s board approved $500,000 for as many as 5,000 discounted gas log fireplace units.

The incentive plan kicked off in December, and, to date, only 500 units have been sold, said district spokesman Sam Atwood.

“If we were to have ‘no burn’ alerts, some people might be more inclined to make the switch,” he said.

Up north in Chico, it’s a different story.

The Chico City Council voted last August to start a “no-burn” plan when needed this winter for certain types of stoves.

As it turned out, a lack of rain and wind has allowed air pollutants to collect in the valley around Chico, said Jim Wagoner, Butte County’s air pollution control officer.

Although many residents want to buy cleaner-burning but pricy wood stoves, Wagoner’s district lacks the funds this year to help them make the switch.

By the way, air quality is even worse in the San Joaquin Valley, where “no burn” rules were established years ago.

Since Nov. 1, for instance, Fresno County has experienced 56 “no burn” days. The main reason? Clear skies. A recent editorial in the Fresno Bee called it the worst air in a dozen years and suggested that fireplace bans may not do enough.

“The dangerously high levels of particulates this winter should spur officials to heed long-standing calls from air-quality advocates to look seriously at agricultural sources of pollution and tractor-trailer rigs, as well as fireplace soot,” the editorial states.

“While burning bans may be the least painful to enforce, they may not be enough to ensure healthy air.”

source ... ictions757
• 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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