A Moderustic Fireplace is Not Only Hotter But Cleaner Too!
We recently had Jerry Young CSP, ARM a Safety Engineer from CalOsha inspect our FireGlass fireplace for both our Carbon Dioxide CO2 and Carbon Monoxide CO levels. And much to both CalOsha's and our enthusiasm we found that our readings are FAR BELOW acceptable levels!
New smog rule would prohibit wood-burning fireplaces in new homes and limit residential wood burning during smog episodes.
By PAT BRENNAN
Smoking chimneys could go the way of smoke-filled restaurants under proposed smog rules aimed at curtailing the use of wood-burning fireplaces in Orange County and the rest of the Los Angeles basin.
Regional smog regulators today will consider banning the installation of traditional wood-fueled hearths in new homes, limiting sales of wood-burning devices, and, by 2013, even placing mandatory limits on burning wood in home fireplaces during heavy smog episodes.
The new rules, which would affect Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, are similar to those being considered, or already put in place, by air-quality regulators throughout California.
"If you look at it legally, if you look at the health implications, this is the time to adopt this regulation," said Elaine Chang, deputy executive officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The new rules might make it tougher even to find wood to burn. One provision would ban the sale of firewood that has not been properly seasoned to reduce its moisture content – and hence its ability to produce smoke.
The worry for regulators is fine particle pollution, bits of soot and other particles 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. The particles can work their way deep into the lungs, potentially causing a variety of health problems.
The Los Angeles basin still has the nation's worst air quality, despite improvements in recent years, including the highest levels of fine particles.
And the regulators have a deadline: a federal mandate to cut such pollution by 2015. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is considering the new rules, must find ways to reduce fine particles or face penalties, such as suspension of federal highway funds.
Many of the most obvious smog sources are already tightly regulated. The district is responsible for "stationary" pollution sources, such as businesses and manufacturers, while the state Air Resources Board regulates "mobile" sources such as cars and trucks.
So the agency is targeting even some residential smog sources that might move them toward the 2015 goal.
Now, that includes the estimated 1.4 million homes with working fireplaces in the Los Angeles basin.
Fireplaces emit about about 6 tons per day of particle pollution in the basin, or 13 tons during the winter wood-burning season – only a portion of the 106 tons per day of fine particulate pollution pumped into the basin's air each year.
Smoke from wood burning, however, pumps four times more particulate pollution into the air as the dozens of power plants in the basin. And the pollution itself can be far more hazardous than other kinds of air pollution.
Wood smoke is mainly made up of particles 2.5 microns in size, or smaller. Such particles are estimated to cause 5,000 premature deaths in the basin each year. They can worsen heart and lung disease, and could cause cancer.
The proposed new rules also include a $500,000 incentive program starting this fall for homeowners to install less polluting, gas-log sets in their wood-burning fireplaces.
They could get a $100 to $150 credit toward such replacements.
If the new rules are adopted, cleaner-burning fireplace systems also would be required when fireplaces are replaced or added to existing homes.
Outdoor fire enthusiasts would be safe: campfires and beach bonfires would be excluded from the new rules.
Wood-burning cook stoves, such as pizza ovens, also would be exempt.
But the small, decorative, wood-burning devices that have become popular for backyards, such as "chimeneas," would not be exempt if burning restrictions were put into effect.
Neither would backyard firepits.
And the penalty for burning anyway if the restrictions begin in 2013?
They sound a little like traffic violations. The penalty for a first offense would be taking an on line class or paying a $50 fine.
A second offense would require installation of a gas setup in the fireplace, or payment of a $150 fine.
A third offense would bring a $500 penalty or participation in an environmental enhancement project.
The AQMD bans the burning of wood on high-pollution days during winter months, usually about two dozen days.
By Janet Wilson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer March 8, 2008
Curling up in front of a cozy wood fire on a nippy night will be banned in many parts of Southern California on bad air days under new regulations passed Friday by regional air regulators.
Citing public health concerns in the heavily polluted Los Angeles Basin, the South Coast Air Quality Management District board voted unanimously to impose hefty fines on homeowners who burn wood in fireplaces on high-pollution days during winter months -- usually about two dozen days.
"This is a fair trade-off," district Executive Director Barry Wallerstein said. "This is about trading personal rights for cleaner air and public health."
Builders will be banned from installing wood-burning fireplaces in new homes, and it will be illegal to buy and install one when remodeling a home. Gas-burning fireplaces will be allowed. Restaurants with wood-fired ovens, such as California Pizza Kitchen, will not be affected by daily bans. Nor will homeowners who rely on a fireplace for heat, or who have properties at an elevation above 3,000 feet.
Coastal areas that don't experience as many high-pollution days probably will be unaffected. Beach fires and ceremonial fires used by tribes also will be allowed.
Fireplaces are used in about 1.4 million of the 5 million households governed by the district, producing an average six tons a day of particulate soot in the air basin, according to the air district.
Numerous studies have linked fine particulate matter, which sinks deep into the lungs, to increased lung and respiratory problems. State officials say an estimated 5,000 premature deaths each year in the region are linked to fine particulate exposure.
About 106 tons of fine particulate soot is directly emitted every day in the Los Angeles area, according to the air district. The new regulations will reduce that by an average of about 1 ton a day.
The winter wood-burning ban will apply in areas where forecasts show federal daily limits for fine particulate matter will be exceeded. That will amount to about two dozen days from November to March each year, regulators said.
Residents most likely to be affected by the regulation include those in the Inland Empire and the San Gabriel Valley, where soot carried by prevailing winds is trapped by mountains.
Many see any kind of ban as an invasion of home and hearth.
"You're not going to regulate my chimney," Stewart Cumming of San Bernardino told the board during a heated public hearing in Diamond Bar. He vowed to continue using his fireplace as he chose.
He and others said it made no sense for the district to pursue such a small pollution source while its other policies allow large polluters to buy exemptions from stiff air pollution limits.
"But you're going to come into my house and tell me where, when and how I can burn wood in my fireplace?" Cumming asked. "I'm not really following the contradiction here very well."
"This is personal for a lot of people," said Burten Carraher, who builds custom fireplaces and chimneys. "Fireplaces are not used that often in Los Angeles. But for people who do, it's a place of comfort.
"It's a place where they relax, and I cannot imagine the number of fireplaces used for that purpose should be addressed in this major, major manner. . . . This is a personal pleasure. It's one of the few things they can enjoy -- besides a television I guess -- that makes it a home."
Southland regulators said federal and state laws require them to go after every possible pollution source. More than a dozen other air pollution districts across the state already have fireplace controls in place.
Some homeowners and health organizations wanted stricter bans, saying they were sick of choking on neighbors' smoke, which aggravates asthma and other potentially deadly health conditions. One Redlands woman at the hearing described coughing and "expectorating" every evening on a regular walk through her neighborhood when wood fires are burning.
"This is very tame; this is really the minimum we need to be doing," said Martin Schlageter of the Coalition for Clean Air.
District enforcers said they would count on peeved neighbors as the front line in enforcing the new rules, with inspectors responding to phone complaints of illegal smoke. Fines will run as high as $500 per violation.
The agency removed a provision that Realtors said would have further hurt an already sagging real estate market: requiring wood-burning fireplaces to be removed or blocked off when a home was sold.
Colleen Callahan of the American Lung Assn.'s Los Angeles office argued unsuccessfully that the board should restore the measure.
"When a potential homeowner is seeking to purchase a home, they're not going to say 'Where's the wood?' They're going to say where's the clean air in Southern California,' " she said.
Board members also granted a request by home builders to hold off on enforcing the construction ban for a year. District officials estimate the cost of installing a natural-gas fireplace is about $500 more than a traditional wood-burning one. The overall ban on wood burning will begin in November 2011, to give the public time to learn about the program and its aims.
The board also approved a $500,000 program to give cash incentives to homeowners who trade out polluting fireplaces for cleaner natural-gas models. The district is seeking proposals from large home improvement chains to design and implement that program.
Salesmen for natural-gas fired hearth and barbecue grills were on hand at the hearing and outside displaying their wares.
"This is not the end of using your fireplace by any means," said John Crouch of the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Assn.
PASADENA - The nights of curling up with a good book in front of a crackling fire are numbered in Southern California.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District board voted unanimously Friday to outlaw all wood-burning fireplaces in newly built homes within a year. The prohibition applies to all new homes constructed in the district, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The new rules also apply to fireplace additions and remodels, which will be required to be converted to gas-burning models.
In addition, homeowners with existing wood-burning fireplaces will be forbidden from using their chimneys on days in which air pollution exceeds healthy levels during the winter season starting in November 2011.
The AQMD's decision was aimed at reducing the large quantities of particulate matter emitted by the area's more than 1 million wood-burning chimneys, said agency spokesman Sam Atwood.
"Those 1.4 million households with wood-burning fireplaces that use them emit on average about 6 tons of (particulate matter) per day," Atwood said. "That is more than four times the amount emitted by all power plants in our four-county region."
During the winter, those fireplaces emit as much as 13 tons of particulate matter per day, Atwood added.
Low-income households and homes where wood-burning stoves are the only source of heat are exempt from the new rules, as are houses above 3,000 feet in elevation.
"We believe consumers should have a choice and today's wood-burning fireplaces are much cleaner than those built 30, 20 or even 10 years ago," Senter said.
But she commended the board for pushing implementation of the new rule out to a year - from the six months originally proposed.
"That gives our builders time to react and make any adjustments to their new home communities," she said.
Senter said the association did not do a cost analysis of the rule's impact on home builders, saying many new residences already feature dual gas and wood-burning fireplaces.
Atwood said the AQMD estimates the cost of converting a wood-burning fireplace with a gas log kit at $500, depending on the configuration of the fireplace and the availability of a gas line.
But he said home builders could actually make up for the extra cost since gas-only fireplaces do not require full masonry chimneys to vent the smoke.
Commercial wood sellers are also targeted by the new regulations. Starting this summer, they can only sell seasoned wood with a moisture content of less than 20 percent from July through February.
"Anybody can buy a device for not very much money to test the (moisture) content," Atwood said.
The restriction won't be a problem for Holiday Firewood on Corson Street and Altadena Drive in Pasadena.
"All our wood is always dry; our customers wouldn't buy it otherwise," said employee Jesus Aguirre, whose company supplies firewood for residences, as well as restaurants and institutions such as Caltech.
Aguirre added that the company would buy a testing kit if required by law.
The new rules also do not apply to charcoal or wood barbecues. But they do apply to outdoor fireplaces, as well as manufactured logs like those marketed by Duraflame and other brands.
Those found burning wood during prohibited days face up to $500 fines and mandatory conversion to a gas fireplace, depending on the number of violations per winter season.
The AQMD would notify residents of non wood-burning days through the media, postings on its Web site and (800) 288-7664 number and possibly e-mail notifications, Atwood said.
The AQMD has also put aside $500,000 for a pilot program to provide $250 for homeowners to convert their wood-burning fireplaces to gas. The program could be expanded in the future, Atwood said.
Aguirre, the wood seller, said he's not worried about a drop in business because it will take a long time to completely phase out wood fireplaces.
"They will never completely get rid of them," he said. "Some people just prefer burning wood."
Our family drives relatively fuel-efficient cars, limits unnecessary trips and carpools when possible. During the winter months, however, we often watch a movie in the evening while enjoying a wood-burning fireplace. This fireplace heats the family room, which seems more sensible than cranking up the gas furnace to waste energy heating the whole house when we are only using a small part of it. In addition, natural gas is not a renewable resource (wood is). Now the South Coast Air Quality Management District is recommending banning the use of wood-burning fireplaces to limit pollution. Rather than starting with this ridiculously small area of concern, why doesn't it focus on the big polluters? Ships, locomotives, big-rigs, lawnmowers and leaf blowers — the list goes on. By starting with the smallest offenders and working up, it will take several generations to make a noticeable difference in air quality. It is too bad that these officials can't use common sense.
Not everyone uses their fireplace for ambiance. We live in a historic 1903 Craftsman and use our fireplace not only in the winter but rely on it for our home's heating needs. Without it, the house goes cold. I'll be the first one in my neighborhood to fight tickets and fines for using our only source for heat. What's next? Banning barbecues in the summer?
I wholeheartedly agree with doing away with wood-burning fireplaces. On my lunch hour last week, I strolled to the Ralph's grocery store across the street and there, at the front door, was a colossal stack of firewood (next to a pyramid of charcoal briquettes) to be purchased for burning. With L.A. assuming its place, once again, as the American city with the worst air quality, banning wood-burning and charcoal-burning grills and fireplaces is appropriate. They are dirty and sooty and nothing more than habit or what we have become accustomed to. In all honesty, who needs them?
2 Forum messages
Wood Burning Fires Places Expelled by Government in Southern California
9 March 2008 14:19, by Bruce
I have a much better and more effective regulation to be passed for those 24 high pollution days. Ban the use of all fuel burning cars and trucks, only electric cars can be used. That should get every ones attention. The nanny government of California is getting way to liberal and leftist with our personal lives. Why don’t they police something important to us all. CRIME? It is getting much worse than air pollution. Question— Why aren’t street gangs considered unlawful?. Most of the members are known by the police. They are nothing more than home grown terrorists. Most neighborhoods are unsafe. The police are inefficient and only react after a crime is committed and of course that is to late for the victim. All the politicos and police have photo-ops meetings de-neighing crime has increased and do nothing about it.
Wood Burning Fires Places Expelled by Government in Southern California
9 March 2008 18:52, by john
If the pollution coming from the politicos in Sacramento and the other government folks were stopped we could have as many wood burning stoves as we wanted.