Mark Johnson of Sweep Clean Chimney Service says he?s aware of an increase in no burn days and suggests checking www.valleyair.org for updates.
By Gary Meyer
On October 16, with very little notice, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) enacted a ban on wood burning during times they designate as “bad air days.” The restriction throughout the air district also applies to the Kern County portion of the Mountain Communities. The number of “bad air days” to be declared may increase by fourfold, SJVAPCD said.
Following a short notice in the November 7 edition of The Mountain Enterprise about the ban, we asked for clarification from the agency.
Wood burning is banned if natural gas service is available to the home or business, according to Dave Baldwin, a spokesperson for SJVAPCD.
Homes and businesses without natural gas or where wood burning is the sole source of heat are exempt from the wood burning ban.
Asked whether there is an exemption for those who cannot afford to pay for natural gas service, even though it may be available to the home, Baldwin said, “If a resident can’t afford to repair their natural gas equipment, a one-year exemption is possible. If a resident cannot afford natural gas service, they need to apply for a waiver, although that is not as likely to be granted.”
Baldwin offered the story of a man who applied for an exemption because his natural gas heater would not heat one end of his house.
“We granted him an exemption so he could use a wood stove on that end of his house,” Baldwin said.
The goal of the changes is to help the SJVAPCD meet stricter federal clean air standards for particulate matter pollution, which is most severe in the San Joaquin Valley during winter months. The district office can be reached at (661) 326-6900. No burn days are posted at www.valleyair.org.
A first-time fine of $50 can be charged for ignoring the noburn rule. After that, the fines increase.
Fine particulate matter, called PM 2.5, is seen as the most harmful air pollutant. It triggers asthma attacks and lung problems. The tiny particles can pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they can clog arteries. Doctors have documented an increase in deaths from lung diseases, heart attacks and strokes on days when fine particle pollution is high.
Bakersfield has some of the highest levels of PM 2.5 pollution in the state. In measurements taken in 2007, Lebec showed levels above those in Burbank. Diesel trucks are the primary cause.
This is part of the November 21, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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