Check Before You Burn begins Nov. 1 in the Central Valley

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FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Air pollution can get bad this time of year in the Valley.

Still conditions and cooler temperatures help trap pollution near the ground, including fireplace smoke. Seasonal wood burning restrictions go into effect Valley-wide November 1.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has the authority to restrict wood burning in-home fireplaces to registered devices only or not allow it at all.

Through a time of year when temperature inversions in the Valley help trap pollutants like a fireplace at ground-level, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District restricts residential wood burning through their “Check before you burn” program.

Valley Air District outreach and communications manager Heather Heinks says, “We have reduced the amount of particulate matter in the winter season significantly — by tons of emission during that winter season. Because the public understands and has been checking before they burn with us and recognizing that when you create pollution in your home you are sharing that pollution with your neighbors in your neighborhood which means if they open their window they are breathing in that pollution.  The ask is really to understand the impact on those around you when you light a fire.”

Air quality monitoring data shows the restrictions are working.

source: REPORT ON 2020-2021 WINTER RESIDENTIAL WOODSMOKE REDUCTION STRATEGY https://www.valleyair.org/Board_meetings/GB/agenda_minutes/Agenda/2021/April/final/10.pdf

Valley winters used to have more unhealthy days than good days.

The trend started to reverse in 2003 — that’s when district wood burning restrictions went from voluntary to mandatory.

source: REPORT ON 2020-2021 WINTER RESIDENTIAL WOODSMOKE REDUCTION STRATEGY https://www.valleyair.org/Board_meetings/GB/agenda_minutes/Agenda/2021/April/final/10.pdf

Rules were tightened again in 2008 and updated again in 2014 when a “registered devices only” category was added.

Heinks says, “The rule applies to outdoor burning as well which means if you have a fire in your backyard in a fire pit or chimenea that is using fuel as combustion and not propane or natural gas you are also subject to the rules.”

The air district is offering thousands in incentives to those upgrading their wood-burning fireplace to natural gas.  Information about the Burn Cleaner program is available at https://www.valleyair.org/grants/apps/burncleaner/Home/

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