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Wood burning regs may be tightened
Wood burning restrictions may get tougher in the Valley due to poor air quality. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Nights spent sitting by a warm fire could be even fewer this winter as the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District considers issuing more wood burning curtailments.

A mainstay of the air districts efforts to keep the Valley within the federal guidelines for fine particulate matter in the air is the Check Before You Burn program. 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.

The air district is expected to vote on a proposal Thursday that would increase the number of wood burning prohibited days between November and February by lowering the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) threshold from 30 micrograms per cubic meter to 20 micrograms per cubic meter, which could potentially double the amount of no-burn days. PM2.5 is a particularly harmful type of air pollution that is linked to chronic lung disease, respiratory illness, heart attacks and premature death.

Prior to the vote, the air district will open the matter up to public comments. The meeting is being held in Fresno, but interested parties can view and participate in the meeting via video teleconferencing at the Modesto office at 4800 Enterprise Avenue. The meeting is set to start at 9 a.m.

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. They are also considering allowing homes with the cleaner burning devices to have fires on no burn days if the level is lower than 65 micrograms.

During the last Check Before You Burn season the air district issued a total of 376 curtailments in all eight counties, which was up from the previous season by 102 percent. Violations issued for noncompliance with curtailments were reported at 569. Stanislaus County had 53 burn prohibitions issued over last season.