2010 March 6: CA Turlock (San Joaquin Valley): Valley air cleaner this winter due to wood-burning bans

2010 March 6: CA Turlock (San Joaquin Valley) : Valley air cleaner this winter due to wood-burning bans

By Sabra Stafford
Crime Desk
sstafford@turlockjournal.com
209-634-9141, ext. 2002

POSTED  March 6, 2010 12:18 a.m.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is reporting another successful season of reducing particulate matter in the Valley’s air through the Check Before You Burn campaign.
According to the air district, there were fewer no burn days in 2009-10 than the previous season and there was a marked improvement in the Valley’s air quality.
The air district recorded a 57 percent decrease Valley-wide in the number of unhealthy days based on the Air Quality Index, compared to the season before. There was also a 41 percent decline over last season in the number of days that exceeded the federal health standard for fine-particulate pollution during the wood-burning season.
“Once again Valley residents have shown great willingness to take part in efforts to protect public health and improve quality of life in our communities,” said Seyed Sadredin, the district’s executive director and air pollution control officer.
The Check Before You Burn program implements restrictions on the use of residential wood-burning stoves and fireplaces when the Valley air quality has deteriorated to a level where the fine-particulate matter is above 30 micrograms per cubic meter. Fine-particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, has been linked to chronic lung disease, respiratory illnesses, heart attacks and premature death.
From November through February, wood-burning forecasts are issued for each of the eight counties in the district on a daily basis that determine whether wood-burning devices can be used that day or not. Those found in violation of the ban are issued tickets. Exemptions are given for those who rely on wood-burning stoves or fireplaces as their primary heat source. For Stanislaus County in the 2009-10 season, there were 25 days that had wood-burning prohibitions and 69 notice of violations were handed out. In the 2008-09 season, the district declared 34 wood-burning bans and issued 68 violations.
“More people are doing their part and understanding that burning wood creates pollution for our area,” said Anthony Presto, a spokesperson for the district.
According to the air district, residential wood-burning can put as much as 17 tons per day of particulate matter into the air basin and is the largest source of particulate pollution during the winter months.
The successes recorded by the district for the 2009-10 season come on the heals of major improvements seen in the prior season, when the Valley experienced one of he cleanest winters on record.
“This is a great example of how we can achieve major reductions in air pollution without having to resort to cost prohibitive regulations on businesses,” Sadredin said. “We continue to see major improvements in the Valley’s air quality due to this measure.”
A comprehensive assessment of the Check Before You Burn is being conducted by the air district and a detailed report is expected to be released in April.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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