2011 Jan. 28: CA Chico & Los Angeles: RAWSEP View: Lack of rain adds to health effects of wood-burning particulates in Chico. This reporter downplays switch from wood to natural gas fireplaces in Los Angeles, although Los Angeles also has low rainfall. RE: Weather plays tricks on wood-burning restrictions
California Center for Health Reporting
Fine particles in wood smoke can inflame lung tissue and worsen chronic diseases such as asthma, especially among the elderly, as reported in a series of …
Excerpt: Weather plays tricks on wood-burning restrictions
500 miles north in Chico, unusually dirty air already has prompted 23 “no burn” days.
(…) rain, or the lack of it—can have a direct impact on human health.
Fine particles in wood smoke can inflame lung tissue and worsen chronic diseases such as asthma, especially among the elderly, as reported in a series of 2010 articles produced by the Chico Enterprise-Record and the Center for Health Reporting.
That is a worry in the Los Angeles area, where wood smoke, much of it from residential fireplaces, adds to the particle pollution created by cars, trucks, trains and ships.
So air regulators launched a mandatory “Check Before You Burn” program this winter in all of Orange County and the non-desert areas of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, overseen by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
To encourage fireplace owners to switch to gas, the district’s board approved $500,000 for as many as 5,000 discounted gas log fireplace units.
The incentive plan kicked off in December, and, to date, only 500 units have been sold, said district spokesman Sam Atwood.
“If we were to have ‘no burn’ alerts, some people might be more inclined to make the switch,” he said.
Up north in Chico, it’s a different story.
The Chico City Council voted last August to start a “no-burn” plan when needed this winter for certain types of stoves.
As it turned out, a lack of rain and wind has allowed air pollutants to collect in the valley around Chico, said Jim Wagoner, Butte County’s air pollution control officer.
Although many residents want to buy cleaner-burning but pricy wood stoves, Wagoner’s district lacks the funds this year to help them make the switch.
By the way, air quality is even worse in the San Joaquin Valley, where “no burn” rules were established years ago.
Since Nov. 1, for instance, Fresno County has experienced 56 “no burn” days. The main reason? Clear skies. A recent editorial in the Fresno Bee called it the worst air in a dozen years and suggested that fireplace bans may not do enough. (…)