The winter smog season is here as evidenced by the first temporary ban on wood burning of the year.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District will not allow wood burning Thursday within the entire air basin, the anti-smog agency announced Wednesday.
Due to stagnant air and a low overnight inversion layer, burning wood in indoor fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and backyard fire pits are prohibited from midnight Wednesday through midnight Thursday.
The restriction affects everyone in Orange County and the non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Exempt from the no-burn rule are:
- Areas at the 3,000 feet level or higher elevation
- Communities in the High Desert and in the Coachella Valley, such as Palm Springs
- Homes using wood-burning for heating
The 24-hour no-burn period includes pressed fire logs usually made of sawdust and wax. However, gas fireplaces with ceramic logs are allowed because they do not burn wood. The rule does not apply to beach fire pits.
Thursday’s no-burn alert is due to elevated levels of fine particulate matter which can bypass the body’s defenses and lodge in the lungs, according to the air quality district. Particulates, especially the smaller ones called PM2.5, can cause lung disease, asthma and heart attacks. Long-term exposure has been linked to increased emergency room visits and early deaths.
The air district’s “check before your burn” program says fireplace smoke could result in 5,000 premature deaths every year in Southern California. Wood burning creates on average 5 tons of unhealthful PM2.5 emissions each day in Southern California.
The no-burn program runs from Nov. 1 to the end of February. Residents can enter their ZIP code at http://www.healthyhearths.org/ or by calling 1-866-966-3293 to see if they live in an affected area.
Last year, the SCAQMD had eight no-burn days, much fewer than the previous years because of the higher amount of drought-busting rainstorms that clear out winter smog, the agency reported. In 2015-2016, there were 14 days; 2014-2015 had 25 days.