For the 9th day in a row today, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has called a “No Burn Day” for our part of southern California. A “No Burn” day signals that there is a high concentration of particulates in the air, with little or no wind to help clear the pollution…so fireplace and cooking fires, either indoors or out, are not allowed. The alert aims to improve wintertime air quality by preventing residents and businesses from releasing additional unnecessary smoke and particulates into our stagnant air.
Although some people may not have heard of “No Burn” days, and may not be aware that there are many days during the winter when fireplace use is not allowed in Los Angeles, the restrictions have been part of the SCAQMD’s larger “Healthy Hearths™ initiative since 2011. The program was established to “improve public health in the Southland by reducing wood smoke from residential wood burning.” As part of Healthy Hearths, the SCAQMD tracks air quality and is empowered to issue the mandatory no-burn alerts from November 1 through the end of February, for specific areas where fine particulates are forecast to reach unhealthful levels. The program is applicable to the non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and to all of Orange County.
According to the SCAQMD’s website:
“Wood-burning devices, estimated at 1.2 million, are significant sources of air pollution in the Southland. They emit an average of 5 tons of particulate matter per day. During the winter, when wood burning is at its peak, wood burning is estimated to cause more than 10 tons per day of particulate matter emissions — equal to nearly seven times the amount of daily primary particulate matter emitted from all of the power plants in the Southland.
Additionally, wood burning in fireplaces can pollute indoor air with fine particulates and toxic air pollutants. “
So if you’re thinking about lighting a cozy fire on a cool day this winter, be sure to check the SCAQMD’s handy “Check Before You Burn” map, which shows whether or not fires are allowed in your area on any given day.
You can also call (toll free) 866-966-3293 for air quality and “No Burn” information…or sign up to receive Air Alerts and notices of No Burn days in your area via e-mail.
For more information about Healthy Hearths, Check Before You Burn and No Burn alerts, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the SCAQMD website.