The Valley Air District concluded its 2020-2021 “Check Before You Burn” season Feb. 28, ending one of the Valley’s most challenging winters that saw an increase in no burn days and violations.
The “Check Before You Burn” program takes place each winter from November through February, reducing the build-up of harmful PM2.5, which can have adverse effects on public health, aggravating heart and lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In accordance with District Rule 4901: Wood Burning Fireplaces and Wood Burning Heaters, the District issues a daily wood-burning declaration and restrictions, based on the air quality forecast for each county. Regional high-pressure systems often cause pollutants to become trapped in the bowl-shaped San Joaquin Valley, creating high concentrations of PM2.5, that accumulate very quickly at ground level, resulting in poor air quality.
“The district’s primary responsibility is protecting the health of San Joaquin Valley residents. This requires strict enforcement of rules that regulate emissions from activities such as residential wood burning,” said Jaime Holt, District Chief Communications Officer.
During the 2020-21 season, Stanislaus County recorded 61 “No Burning Unless Registered” days, an increase from the 49 days of the previous season. The county also had one “No Burning for All” day, compared to zero from the 2019-20 season. The air district issued 197 notices of violation of the wood burning regulations, a significant uptick from the 71 violations issued in Stanislaus County during the 2019-20 season.
While no formal residential wood burning restrictions are in place from March 1 through the end of October, the District urges the public to refrain from burning any solid fuel, even when permitted. The San Joaquin Valley Air Basin faces unique air quality challenges, continually seeking every feasible control measure to protect public health and meet strict federal air quality standards for particulate matter pollution 2.5 microns and smaller (PM 2.5).
Residents are encouraged to upgrade from an open-hearth fireplace or older wood stove, to a cleaner device by taking advantage of the district’s Burn Cleaner incentive program, which provides up to $3,000 for cleaner devices such as, electric heat pumps, natural gas inserts, or certified wood burning devices (in certain areas). Visit www.valleyair.org/burncleaner for program guidelines.
For more information on the “Check Before You Burn” program, visit: www.valleyair.org/rule4901/ or call the District office in Modesto at 557-6400.