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January 4, 2011 > Air District wins legal challenge to wood burning rule

Air District wins legal challenge to wood burning rule

Submitted By Ralph Borrmann

The California courts have unanimously affirmed the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's authority to make manufactured logs sold and used in the Bay Area subject to the Air District's wood burning rule. The latter prohibits burning solid fuel, such as wood, wood pellets and manufactured fire logs, when a Winter Spare the Air Alert is called and requires solid fuel to include a label informing consumers how to obtain information regarding the current burn status.

"The Courts have upheld every provision of the Air District's wood burning rule which protects public health and reduces harmful winter air pollution" said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. "Soot from fireplace burning poses a significant public health threat that will be remedied by conscientious regulatory action."

In mid-December, the California Supreme Court refused to review a First District Court of Appeals ruling rejecting Duraflame Inc.'s attempt to invalidate the Bay Area Air District's wood burning rule as it applies to manufactured fire logs. A stay, imposed on the Air District's enforcement of the labeling requirement for manufactured fire logs, has been lifted and the Air District will begin enforcing the labeling requirement at the retail, wholesale and manufacturing levels.

Wood smoke from the Bay Area's 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves can trigger asthma attacks and make it difficult for children, seniors and those with heart or lung conditions to breathe. It is the main source of winter air pollution in the Bay Area and contains harmful pollutants, including soot, carbon monoxide and toxins such as dioxin which is linked to increased cancer rates in adults.

Members of the public must check before they burn during the Winter Spare the Air season which lasts from November 1 to February 28. The burning of wood, manufactured logs or any other solid fuel is prohibited during an Air Alert.

The daily burn status can be found at www.baaqmd.gov and www.sparetheair.org and toll-free at 1-877-466- 2876 where complaints can also be filed.

Visit www.sparetheair.org or call 1-800-430-1515 to sign up for AirAlerts.

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