UPDATED: SCAQMD Explains Why Another Wood-Burning Ban Is Scheduled Jan. 3-4

Here's why there have been so many bans in recent days and weeks.

SCAQMD Check Before You Burn Map for 1/3/2014
SCAQMD Check Before You Burn Map for 1/3/2014

UPDATED: By now, Southern California residents may have become accustomed to bans against burning wood in their fireplaces. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued several prohibitions over the last few weeks, and there's another ban scheduled Jan. 3-4.

But the agency has offered an explanation as to why there are so many bans this winter season, and it has to do with tighter restrictions.

"It was anticipated that lowering the threshold would trigger more no-burn days. Since November 1, we have issued four no-burn alerts this season," district spokeswoman Tina Cox said in an email Jan. 2. 

The fourth no-burn was scheduled Jan. 3 and a fifth ban was issued for Jan. 4. Residents living in the Inland Empire, greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, and Orange County are not permitted to burn wood in their fireplaces tomorrow due to elevated fine particulate levels predicted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. 

Residents in these areas are prohibited from burning wood or manufactured fire logs in their fireplaces during the two-day and two-night ban, although residents living in mountain communities are exempt from the ban, as are residents in the Coachella Valley and High Desert. Homes that rely on wood as a sole source of heat, low-income households and those without natural gas service also are exempt from the requirement, according to the SCAQMD.

But why the bans?

SCAQMD’s Check Before You Burn program, in effect each winter from Nov. 1 to the end of February, is designed to protect public health by minimizing harmful wood smoke from residential wood burning, according to the SCAQMD. 

"No-burn alerts are called when air quality is forecast to be elevated due to fine particulate levels (PM2.5). Wood smoke contains hundreds of contaminants including PM2.5, a pollutant linked to increased emergency room visits and hospitalizations, as well as increased risk of heart attacks and early deaths," according to an SCAQMD statement.

The SCAQMD also adopted rule changes in May that tighten restrictions on wood burning. The changes lower the forecast threshold for a no-burn alert from 35 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 to 30 micrograms per cubic meter, averaged over a 24-hour period. In addition, depending on where unhealthy PM2.5 levels are forecast, a no-burn alert may be called for specific areas or for the entire South Coast Air Basin, according to the agency.

"Included in the amendments was the lowering of the threshold level that triggers a mandatory no-burn day," Cox added.

On a no-burn day, residents can enter their ZIP code at www.aqmd.gov to see if they live in an affected area.  They can also sign up for daily reports on air quality and Check Before You Burn alerts at www.airalerts.org or call SCAQMD’s 24-hour Check Before You Burn toll-free line at (866) 966-3293.

For further information on Check Before You Burn and alternatives to wood burning, see www.healthyhearths.org. -- Toni McAllister and Guy McCarthy contributed to this story.

kristin c January 02, 2014 at 06:35 PM
With all of the exemptions, this will only apply to less than half of the IE. How ridiculous this is.. good luck enforcing this. Next good old Cali will have no drive days... only electric cars and bicycles allowed on the road... how about no smoking days? No airplane days? How about no cars from out of state days since nobody else requires smog regulations... Then we can graduate to no bathing days, no electricity days, no breathing days... so tired of California. If you want better air quality, quit letting people cross the border with their dirty Mexican petrol.
Cyclist January 02, 2014 at 07:07 PM
Guess what causes the most pollution in the LA/OC/Riverside areas? Cars? No Fireplaces? No Container ships idling off shore waiting to come in? Yes. These ships have zero pollution controls. They will sit idling all Saturday and Sunday off shore waiting for the union dock workers to come back to work on Monday (whenever they decide to show up on Monday). All that smoke gets blown onshore. It was proven in a scientific study, but I can't find it right now.
Mike January 02, 2014 at 10:16 PM
I'm saved thanks to the SCAQMD!
Woodman January 03, 2014 at 09:44 AM
What a bunch of B.S. Another dum bass move by the commies in Sacramento!
Litllejimmy January 03, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Wow really! This is why Cali is getting ridiculous to live in! Can't have a fire really? I wonder why everyone is leaving this state. What next one one shower a week to save water, etc... Can't wait to leave this "big brother state"
Ray ray January 03, 2014 at 01:21 PM
Good luck enforcing this, suck it do gooders! Burn baby burn!
SA January 03, 2014 at 01:49 PM
I think we need no breathing and farting days as to limit Carbon Dioxide pollution…
John Smith January 03, 2014 at 02:45 PM
We are burning as much wood as possible and so are my neighbors. We are not letting the control freaks rule us!
ChrisG January 03, 2014 at 07:50 PM
@sa. My wife has been suggesting those no farting days for years. Please do not encourage her!
Mike January 03, 2014 at 09:00 PM
Got fire burning right now..
SA January 04, 2014 at 01:02 PM
@Chris sorry sir but I am only looking out for our environment and if that causes general freedoms to be taken away, then I am all about it … Maybe you and your wife / household should discuss “cap & trade” … ha ;)
John Smith January 04, 2014 at 02:20 PM
SA I will "cap" my burning of firewood today if the SCAQMD will "trade" me some credits with the utility companies to heat my house. People need to wake up . AQMD is just a bunch of over paid Communists using environmentalism as a form of control.
SA January 04, 2014 at 03:22 PM
Mr. Smith I agree with you … People much rather stick their heads in the sand than to speak up (not out)… Government was not put into place to restrict our comforts i.e. heating of our homes…
Jeff Kleiner January 04, 2014 at 03:49 PM
John Smith January 04, 2014 at 04:27 PM
Oh look it's the racist stalker Kleiner!


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