Help clear the air; check before burning

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Help clear the air; check before burning

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:09 pm

Opinion - Bee Editorials
Friday, Nov. 16, 2012
Help clear the air; check before burning

According to the calendar, fall begins in late September, but we all know that November tends to mark the true start of fall in the San Joaquin Valley.

It's also the start of a four-month "check before you burn" season in the valley, when the valley air district restricts use of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves because air quality is poor due to high counts of small particulates. In the first 15 days of this month, Stanislaus County has had three such days. Merced County had none, and San Joaquin County had only one.

The fireplace restrictions have been around for many years, but every year, some residents gripe about them. Others suggest that there should be more days in which burning is prohibited because they are bothered by the smoke that drifts through their neighborhoods. The particulates can be irritating for some people and even lethal for those with asthma or breathing illnesses.

People who don't have access to natural gas service and rely entirely on their wood-burning stoves for heat qualify for an exemption. There aren't a lot of those people in the valley, especially in the urban areas. And in newer homes, most of the fireplaces are gas, so they are not subject to burn prohibitions.

Are the current restrictions so tough as to be onerous?

We don't think so, when the trade-off is improving air quality. Also, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District makes it easy for people to check on whether it is a "please burn cleanly" or a "wood burning prohibited" day. The information is available on the district Web site,, and people can sign up for an e-mail alert. It is also available on a toll-free phone line, (800) 766-4463. The Bee prints the information on its daily weather page on the back of the Local News section. Look at the top right corner for the burn advisories for Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties.

The air district is looking at tighter rules for the future and those could severely limit wood burning during the winter. The tighter restrictions are one of several proposals from the valley air district to meet the federal air standards; a vote could be taken next month, though the tighter restrictions wouldn't take effect until 2014. Information about the proposals is available at ... ns2012.htm.

For the time being, we urge residents to abide by the burn restrictions and to burn cleanly when they do have a fire in the fireplace. That means using clean, seasoned and dry wood, or opting for a manufactured fire log, which provides the same ambience but burns more cleanly.

And we urge people to consider the incentives that the air district is offering to people who upgrade to a fireplace insert or cleaner-burning pellet or gas stoves. The cash incentives range from $100 to $1,500. Information is available on the Web site.

It's tempting to reminisce about the days when there were no restrictions on fireplace use. Those also were the days when there were far fewer people living in our valley and when we weren't as aware of the health impacts of bad air. The particulates from burning in an open fireplace contribute to a valleywide problem, but their impact is greatest on the people who live in that house or nearby. That should be enough to encourage valley residents to check before you burn.

source ... efore.html


Wood smoke and the air we breathe ... index.html

New woodstoves support better air
Replacing woodstoves helps families, air quality and local business ... 963f4.html

Doctors say exposure to sunrays keeps cold at bay
By Jaideep Deogharia, TNN | Nov 17, 2012, 03.58 AM IST
"When asked if traditional ways of warming up homes using firewood or coil based electric room heaters and blowers are preferable options, the doctors advised against it. Dr Rajesh, working in a government hospital, said people in villages often come with complaints of asphyxiation and breathlessness after sleeping in a room with an 'angithi' (hearth) burning during winter nights. "Burning wood or coal often produces carbon monoxide which can cause poisonous reaction with the blood and lead to blindness and even be fatal," he said." ... 249536.cms
• 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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