During winter, the largest source of particulate pollution comes from residential wood burning. To mitigate the negative effects of burning in Valley communities, every winter the Air District issues a daily wood-burning status by county. The Check Before You Burn program runs Nov. 1 through the end of February.
"Wood smoke is one of the most dangerous pollutants that you can expose yourself, your children, and your neighbors to," said Seyed Sadredin, the District's executive director and air pollution control officer. "Prolonged exposure to wood smoke can lead to pulmonary arterial hypertension, pulmonary heart disease, heart failure and cancer."
Daily burn statuses are available by calling 1-800-SMOG INFO (766-4463), by downloading the free iPhone app "Valley Air" from the App Store, or Valley residents may sign up for email notifications by visiting www.valleyair.org/CBYB.
"The Check Before You Burn program provides an opportunity for Valley residents to do their part to help reduce air pollution and improve public health throughout the San Joaquin Valley," said Sadredin.
In order to take advantage of additional burn days, the Air District encourages Valley residents to register their clean EPA Phase II wood or pellet burning device by visiting www.valleyair.org/CBYBregistration.
Valley residents wanting to switch out older wood-burning devices for a cleaner model can take advantage of the District's Burn Cleaner grants which provide $1,000 for certified wood, pellet inserts, freestanding stoves or natural gas inserts or $2,500 for eligible low-income applicants for all devices. An additional $500 is available to all applicants for the installation costs on a natural gas device. To participate in this program please visit www.valleyair.org/burncleaner.
There are two exceptions to wood-burning prohibitions: If the residence does not have another source of heat or if the residence does not have access to natural-gas service (even if propane is used), they are exempt from the rule and may continue to use their device. Residents may get exemption information at www.valleyair.org/Rule4901. Additionally, fireplace inserts or stoves that run solely on gas or propane, and never burn wood, continue to be exempt from the rule. Wood-burning declarations also apply to outdoor devices and chimneys.