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Occasional ban on wood fires starts Nov. 1

Original post made on Nov 2, 2009

Sunday marked the beginning of a four-month period in the Bay Area when burning wood will be outlawed on "Spare the Air" days, when weather conditions are expected to cause air pollution to reach unhealthy levels.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 2, 2009, 10:26 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by The one, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2009 at 10:51 am

Ahh yes, now they can control what you can and cant do at your house. Seriously.. do you think the small amount of houses burning wood is really going to make an impact at all? You still have thousands of cars driving, trucks driving, planes flying, barges floating. And your telling me this is going to make an impact? Sounds like extra revenue for the city.So if it is 1 percent that matters, what about the extra personnel needed to go around neighborhoods trying to catch those "law breaking" citizens trying to stay warm.Sounds like you can spend that money on better resources, than funding some damn environment Nazi patrolling the streets.

Posted by dfb, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Yes, it makes a difference. Those spare the air days occur with inversion layers which means the pollutants sit over the valley and collect in certain hot spots. In this case, the specific pollutant targeted is carbon monoxide.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which made and enforces the rule, relies on citizens to report scofflaws. And yes, I will report you.

Posted by Furthermore, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

@The one --
Suggesting that this regulation will have little impact and calling those who implement it 'environment Nazis' is probably easy for someone in good health, without any respiratory ailments, which I am presuming you are. For those with asthma, the elderly, and those who may in the future develop lung cancer from air pollutants, this regulation can have a huge impact, and prevent health problems now and in the future.

Posted by can i fart?, a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Only in Ca. From emissions on new diesel trucks to RED sticker OHV or smoking in your back yard. I have been to a lot of other states that are beautiful with clean air that don't do half of our half whit things.

Posted by Zane P, a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm

My fireplace insert meets the 1990 U.S.A. EPA particulate emission standards. I wonder if it is exempt.

Posted by No you can't, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

By the way, your cigarette smoke comes into my airspace, so no you can't smoke. No, you can't pollute my air. It's either the ME generation or the older generation that just wants things to be the way they were who always have a problem with thinking about how their actions affect others. Me, me, me. Whatever happened to the common good?

Oh, and how many of these other states with all that clean air have 20 million plus residents???

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I'd prefer not being bombarded with microwaves from various cell phone service providers. Just wait until "electronic smog" becomes an issue here, as it already has in parts of Europe. You have no right to use a cell phone if the signal affects me. Think about that one for a while.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm

My neighbor burns woodchips in his bar-b-que. I close my windows and my house still fills with smoke. There is nothing I can do about it. We all live too close together to be burning wood. If the wood is wet, it smokes even worse.

Posted by The Dad, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm

If woodsmoke is the number one winter air pollutant in the area, then yes, banning wood fires will indeed make a very big difference to us all.

Posted by CA, a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I also support the "Spare the Air" restrictions on wood burning fireplaces. I use to love the smell of fires burning in the cool night air, until I learned that this smell meant that I was inhaling dioxin, arsenic and formaldehyde. Now I hold my breath until I am inside.

Web Link

"Wood smoke consists of tiny toxic particles that pose a serious public health threat when inhaled. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable. Research has shown that wood smoke pollution can worsen breathing, exacerbate asthma and emphysema, and cause premature death. Due to their small size, the soot particles can bypass the body's airway defenses, and enter into the bloodstream, leading to plaque build up and heart attacks."

Posted by Castro Resident, a resident of Castro City
on Nov 2, 2009 at 7:49 pm

This article confuses me. Are all wood fires banned until the end of February or only on certain days? How do you define a wood fire? Are those pressed logs included? Can you still barbecue your dinner using charcoal?

Posted by NeHi, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 2, 2009 at 8:00 pm

There was a time I followed an article in Popular Science [or Mechanics] and saturated a newsboy folded Merc. in crankcase drippings. Durn fine fire but when I saw what came out of the chimbly, I quit.

Now this was not a wood fire in any way and I wonder if it would be legal under the present ordinance for my ordnance.

The Voice would do better to "quote" the ordinance or law. Is or is it not legal to conflagrate my copy of the voice in my fireplace??

Posted by dfb, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Go to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District web site for more info. Web Link It is at:
"The nine counties that surround San Francisco Bay are home to almost seven million residents and an estimated 1.7 million fireplaces and wood stoves. The particulate matter (PM) in the wood smoke from these fireplaces and wood stoves has been a health concern in the Bay Area for many years.

For that reason, the Air District has adopted a wood-burning regulation that makes it illegal to use any wood-burning devices such as fireplaces, woodstoves, or pellet stoves, when air quality is forecast to be unhealthy and a Winter Spare the Air Alert is in effect. This regulation also places restrictions on visible emissions, prohibits the burning of garbage, plastics, and other unsuitable materials, and stipulates that only cleaner-burning technology can be sold or installed in new construction or remodels in the Bay Area."

Posted by NeHi, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 2, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Ok, dfb, good link, thanks.

Good to know what i quit doing was not illegal. I still won't do it again. Common sense should come in here somewhere.

Posted by Chewbacca, a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I have a type II EPA rated wood stove. I'm burning, get over it!

Posted by Screwbacca, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Chewbacca, thanks for being environmentally correct. The ban does not apply to you. Sorry, I know you wanna be an outlaw but you're thumbing your nose at nothing, and nobody has to get over a thing. Now deep breath...hold it, and relaaaax.

Posted by Mountain View Resident, a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:32 am

It definitely matters. If you don't think wood burning effects the air quality I would suggest you drive to a vista point on Thanksgiving or the day after when everyone is burning a fire at home and traffic is minimal. Once you see the thick layer of pollution hovering over the peninsula, caused just by families lighting their 'little" fire you might feel differently about the impact of this. It really opened my eyes.

Posted by Bruno, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 5, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Yeah, I've seen that too and I wasn't moved by it. That's actually what it has looked like every winter season since the creation of fire? I know everyone wants to be green and reduce pollution, but pick your battles for crying out loud. How about getting more people to take public transit before you ban warmth in the form of my cozy fire.

Good thing this is only on certain days as I'm sure my greenie neighbors would totally call the police. The fireplace police?

Posted by RealitySlap, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 6, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Bruno posted: "I know everyone wants to be green and reduce pollution, but pick your battles for crying out loud."

You mean like prioritizing and first going after the number one air pollutant in the area?
Hmm, now what would that be? Oh yah. Wood Smoke. Thanks for the great idea Bruno.

Posted by Bruno, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 7, 2009 at 1:27 pm

#1 According to who? So you're telling me that wood burning causes more pollution on any given day than the thousands and thousands of cars driving?

People burn wood in their fireplaces, is that really that shocking?

Posted by RatherNotBeSick, a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm

I don't know if "wood burning causes more pollution on any given day than the thousands and thousands of cars driving" (as Bruno put it) -- but to some people it is a particularly toxic form of pollution that causes severe asthma attacks. Back in the '70s I lived in Nevada County (CA) for about five years, which is a rural county with a fairly small population. I was told that Nevada County was considered to be the most polluted county in California (more than L.A. County), due to the high percentage of homes using woodstoves! After five years of living there and inhaling woodstove smoke, I started developing severe asthma attacks; and to this day, wood stove smoke is what triggers my asthma attacks (NOT the exhaust from "thousands and thousands of cars"). WHY this is the case, I'm not sure; but there seems to something particularly toxic in wood stove smoke! Yes, I used to think that a wood fire was "cozy," too, until it started making me very sick....

Posted by Bob Moore, a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Wood Smoke is not the number one pollution source in the winter. The air board in their wise political minds separated all other sources from pertroleum products in to several categories. This of course makes it look like wood burining is number 1. They separated cars, buses, trucks, refineries etc. Don't be fooled into believing that the 7-8 refineries and millions of petroleum buring vehicles are not the number one source of pollution.

Posted by Anna, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Neighbors have started burning wood in their fireplace and it smokes and smells up the neighborhood close to it. Isn't it considered dangerous repiratory pollution?

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