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Air district reports improvement over winter months

POSTED March 18, 2011 8:06 p.m.

The air quality over the winter season has shown a marked improvement according to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, which recently wrapped up its eighth Check Before You Burn program.

Check Before You Burn operates every November through February and restricts the use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces when air quality is low to help prevent the build-up of fine particulate matter. During the season, wood-burning forecasts are issued each day for every county in the San Joaquin Valley, which determine if wood-burning devices can be used. The District tickets those caught in violation of the restriction.

“This rule is one of our most important tools to keep the Valley’s air during winter as clean as possible,” said Seyed Sadredin, the District’s executive director and air pollution control officer. “Our cleaner air quality benefits all of us.”

During the last season the number of unhealthy air days in the Valley, which is based on the Air Quality Index, showed a decrease of 44 percent. The number of days that exceeded the federal health standard for fine-particulate pollution also declined by 9 percent over last season.

The District adopted the wood-burning restriction in 2003 and since then several other air basins have adopted similar regulations.

“The Valley continues to pioneer important regulations that are critical to protecting the public health and improving our quality of life,” Sadredin said.

Over the last winter season the District issued 25 wood-burning prohibitions in Stanislaus County and doled out 54 violations. Fresno County had the most prohibitions at 44 and the most violations at 174.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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