The South Coast Air Quality Management District Tuesday launched its annual “Check Before You Burn” program, designed to protect public health by reducing harmful wood smoke during winter months.
Under the program, mandatory no-burn alerts will be issued for Orange County and non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties when fine particle air pollution levels are forecast to be high.
Similar programs exist throughout much of California and in many other areas of the nation.
During a no-burn day, residents in affected areas are not allowed to burn wood — either indoors or outdoors.
The no-burn prohibition also applies to manufactured fire logs, such as those made from wax or paper.
No-burn alerts are issued one day in advance and last for 24 hours. Residents can sign up to receive email alerts at www.AirAlerts.org to learn when a mandatory no-burn alert has been issued.
“While fine particle pollution levels in Southern California have been decreasing, (they are) still linked to more than 4,000 deaths in the Los Angeles Basin each year,” said Barry R. Wallerstein, the AQMD’s executive officer. “Everyone can play an important role in the quality of air our families breathe by signing up to receive no-burn alerts.”
The alerts do not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet in elevation, and the Coachella Valley. Homes that rely on wood as a sole source of heat, low-income households and those without natural gas service are also exempt.
Wood smoke is a complex mixture of gases and microscopic fine particles so small they can get deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems.
The Check Before You Burn program is in effect November through the end of February, when particulate levels are highest.
For more information on wood smoke and your health, and to sign up to receive no-burn alerts, visit www.AirAlerts.org.
—City News Service
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