Clean Air Goal
Our Clean Air goal is to educate, inform and advocate to improve our air quality by helping neighbors reduce or eliminate wood burning. Why is wood burning an issue for clean air in Terra Linda? We’ve been burning wood for years, right? Well, just as with cigarettes, we now know more about the health effects.
This work through volunteers is providing educational information to our local schools and businesses. In February 2017 as part of our work Terra Linda High School's Marin Science Seminar presented a seminar on what was called Fresh Air February.
Homeowners please check out the rebate deals from the Marin County Rebate program. It provides $250 for removal of a non-EPA Phase II wood burning stove or fireplace and $75 for installation of a EPA Phase II rated wood stove or fireplace gas/electric insert. The link below for the Marin County Rebate program also includes wood stove and fireplace insert retailers that provide discounts as much as 15%.
1. Particulate pollution created by wood burning is the largest contributor to winter air pollution in the Bay Area and a health problem for many in Marin.
Understanding Particle Pollution in Bay Area
“When you breathe air with wood smoke in it, you inhale the fine particles deeply into your lungs. The particles contain toxic substances that can remain in your lungs for months, causing changes that lead to diseases and structural damage.” (from “How Wood Smoke Harms Your Health”). The World Health Organization has declared wood smoke a contributor to lung cancer due to the release of Benzene, Dioxin, Carbon Monoxide and other toxins.
World Health Organization October 2013 Press Release
The American Lung Association also recommends against burning wood at
2. Wood smoke pollution is a neighborhood issue more than a regional issue. A study done in 2013, by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Atmospheric and Climate Sciences in the town of Cambria, showed variability within neighborhoods could read up to 4x the average concentration of particle pollution that is used to call a Spare the Air Day.
As most air quality monitory stations are specifically set up away from potential local pollution sources, when a Spare the Air Day is called, pollution in your neighborhood can already be much higher than the Bay Area standard for unhealthy air. Here in Terra Linda, we are in a valley where the air sits for long periods which may cause higher concentrations of pollution.
3. Marin consistently has the highest number of complaints regarding wood smoke violations on Spare the Air Days and is always in the #1 or #2 spot for number of violators cited.
4. Spare the Air Days are not enough. As concluded in the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory study cited above, “even during relatively good air quality, individuals located near a local source of wood smoke can receive substantial exposures” and that for “sensitive individuals this could lead to health effects when air quality indicates no risk.”
5. What Can We Do?
Sign up for Spare the Air Days and don’t burn on those days. http://www.sparetheair.org/Make-a-Difference/Spare-the-Air-Every-Day/Winter.aspx
If you do burn wood, follow recommendations regarding use of only dry, seasoned wood and keep your fireplace clean. Read the EPA recommendations http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/bestburn.html
Check your smoke. Is there a lot of smoke? Is it anything other than clear? If it is very thick, gray or black, you are significantly contributing to air pollution and affecting your health and the health of your neighbors. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has provided pictures to compare the smoke from your chimney to see if it legal at http://www.baaqmd.gov/~/media/Files/Communications%20and%20Outreach/Visible%20Smoke%20Limits.ashx Please note that any wood burning contributes to air pollution, good wood burning practices just minimize the impact.
Work to weatherize your home to reduce the need for wood burning as a supplemental source of heat.
Help us with this work to keep our air clean by spreading the word.