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Program limiting fireplace use re-ignites
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The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Check Before You Burn program is slated to begin Monday.

Check Before You Burn, which runs from November through February each winter, determines when residential wood burning will add dangerous levels of particulate matter – tiny pieces of soot, ash, dust and other materials – to the Valley’s air, and prohibits the use of residential wood-burning devices. Wood-burning forecasts are issued by county each day.

The program is in its eighth year.

“This rule has been critical in helping the Valley reduce the presence of particulate pollution during the winters,” said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District’s executive director and air pollution control officer. According to the Air District, the 2009/10 year was the cleanest on record for the air basin, and officials credit Check Before You Burn.There are two forecast levels, depending on air quality: “Wood burning Prohibited” and “Please Burn Cleanly.” When a prohibition is declared, burning any solid fuel in a residential fireplace or wood-burning device is not permitted and violations may result in fines. Backyard chimineas and fire pits are also subject to the prohibitions. There are two exemptions:If the residence does not have access to natural-gas service, even if propane is available; or If burning solid fuel is the sole source of heat for the residence. When burning is allowed, the Air District recommends using manufactured fire logs such as Duraflame or dry, seasoned wood to minimize emissions.High levels of particulate pollution can have serious health effects, including bronchitis, lung disease and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. Young children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory and coronary disease are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollutants.

Daily wood-burning forecasts will be available by county each day at 4:30 p.m., beginning Sunday at, by calling 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463) or by subscribing to the Air District’s daily air quality forecast at

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.