OP-ED: Spare the Air: A matter of life and breath

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OP-ED: Spare the Air: A matter of life and breath

Postby Wilberforce » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:45 pm

OP-ED: Spare the Air: A matter of life and breath
January 26, 2013, 05:00 AM By Jack Broadbent

A recent letter to the editor (“Wrong target” in the Jan. 19 edition of the Daily Journal) gave voice to several unfortunate misconceptions about the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s programs, and we’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

First of all, wood burning is not a “statistically minimal” source of air pollution: it’s the single largest source of fine particle pollution in the wintertime, accounting for more than 30 percent of the total. There are 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area, and when even a small proportion of these light up on a cold, still winter’s day, the air quality results can be comparable to what happens when smoke from wild fires engulfs the region in the summer and fall.

Fine particle pollution has many of the same components as second-hand cigarette smoke, and is just as harmful. Our wood burning regulation was designed to protect the public on days when fine particle pollution is forecast to exceed federal health standards, which are set by the federal government to mark the point when air quality becomes especially hazardous to breathe.

Furthermore, our wood burning regulation is just one facet in an extensive framework of regulations we’ve developed to protect air quality in the Bay Area year-round. We enforce strict regulations that limit emissions from large industrial sources like refineries and power plants to smaller sources like gas stations, dry cleaners and restaurants with char broilers. These regulations are the product of intensive study and consideration, taking the latest scientific research and technological innovations into account.

Motor vehicle regulations are handled at the state level, and California has the strictest standards in the country for vehicle engines and fuels. But the air district encourages alternative to driving alone in the spring and summer months through the Spare the Air program.

Altogether, these rules constitute an ever-evolving network of air quality protections that, despite constantly increasing population and traffic numbers, have contributed to a steady and impressive decline in overall pollution levels in the region.

But there are still many days each year when air quality endangers public health, and the wood burning rule is a key element in the proper regulatory response. It can’t be emphasized enough that wood smoke is no trivial concern: with one in seven Bay Area residents suffering from asthma, and with fine particles responsible for 90 percent of premature mortality due to air pollution in the region, Winter Spare the Air alerts really are a matter of life and breath.

Jack Broadbent is the executive officer for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_p ... d%20breath
• 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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