The Governing Board for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District approved a proposal to tighten the wood burning bans in the Central Valley, lessening the number of days individuals can use traditional fireplaces.
The District's Check Before You Burn residential wood-burning rule was amended Thursday to lower the threshold for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from 30 micrograms per cubic meter to 20 micrograms per cubic meter. As a result the number of no burn days issued for the area between November and February is expected to double. Stanislaus County had 53 burn prohibitions issued over last season.
Check Before You Burn requires wood-burning prohibitions on days when levels of fine-particulate matter (PM2.5) are forecast to exceed the federal health standard. Wood-burning forecasts are issued daily for each county.
Fine particulate matter can increase the risk of lung disease, respiratory illness, heart attacks and stroke.
According to the air district, wood burning contributes 13 percent to winter-time particulate matter emissions.
"This rule has been the most cost-effective regulation the district has developed and yields dramatic health benefits," said Seyed Sadredin, the district's executive director and air pollution control officer. "We're pleased that we can make it even more effective in encouraging the use of cleaner wood-burning devices."
The air district has promoted efforts to switch traditional wood burning fireplaces and stoves to cleaner technology by offering financial incentives to help cover the cost. The Governing Board approved bolstering the Burn Cleaner incentive program by $2.1 million. The program will offer Valley residents up to $1,500 off the cost of upgrading to an EPA-certified wood-burning stove or insert, pellet stove or insert, or a natural gas stove or insert. Qualified low-income residents may receive up to $2,500 off the approved appliances.
Additionally homes with the cleaner burning devices will be allowed to burn on the declared no burn days when the level is lower than 65 micrograms.
The Check Before You Burn program begins Nov. 1.