SoCal Bans Wood Burning on Bad Air Days

But fireplace lovers need not fret: only 24 days per year
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2008 8:08 AM CST
In one effort to reduce the typical SoCal haze, California officials have imposed limits on the use of wood-burning fires in the Southland on high-pollution days in winter.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Officials in charge of air quality in Los Angeles and surrounding counties have banned the use of wood-burning fireplaces during certain high-pollution days. The fines would only be levied on about two dozen winter days, and wouldn't affect gas fireplaces, wood-burning ovens in restaurants, or homes above 3,000 feet, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"This is about trading personal rights for cleaner air and public health," explained a district official. Southland fireplaces currently spew about six tons of soot into the air every day, contributing to an estimated 5,000 early deaths per year from respiratory problems. Not everyone is swayed by the ban's benefits, however: one SoCal resident vows, "You're not going to regulate my chimney." (Read more Los Angeles stories.)