New Rules for Particulate Pollution

October 16, 2008 11:48:07 PM PDT
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District voted to put new rules on particulate pollution in place on November first. Sarah Jackson a research associate for the environmental group Earthjustice applauds the decision."It will help bring down the really dangerous small particulate matter pollution which is what causes people to have heart attacks and strokes, and exacerbates asthma and makes kids sick. So I think if we can get that under control with this rule that will be great." Jackson said.

The old rules targeted larger particulate matter, known as PM 10. The new rule aims to get much smaller particulates out of the air.

Jessica Hafer, a spokesperson for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District explains it like this:" It means that there will be more no burn days each winter. But that our PM 2.5 levels should drop significantly which should have good public health impacts."

Getting the air four times cleaner will likely mean at least four times as many days when wood burning is prohibited. Under the new standards, last years 12 "No Burn" days would have been increased to 48. These No Burn days can be declared from November first to the end of February. Representatives of companies that make clean burning wood and pellet stoves protested the move, arguing people who use their products should be allowed to use them anytime.

Jay Hanson represents fireplace and barbecue manufacturers. He urged the board to allow the clean burning appliances to use them anytime. But his proposal to simply allow anything that does not produce smoke, to be used on No Burn days was rejected.

Another change affects wood burners who live in the mountains and foothills above three thousand feet. They will lose their exemption to No Burn days, if they have natural gas service available. If it's any consolation, using gas should be cheaper this winter.

PG&E spokesperson Jeff Smith says," Natural gas prices are trending significantly down from where they were just a couple of months ago. That's very good news for our customers."

One thing hasn't changed anyone who relies on wood as their exclusive heat source can burn anytime.

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