The Valley Air District has received national praise for its efforts to reduce harmful residential wood burning.
The Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies cited the local agency for its “best practice” program on Sept. 29.
Every year, the association recognizes groundbreaking technology, innovative practices, and exemplary operations in air pollution control in the United States.
“The San Joaquin Valley has long worked together as a region to find innovative ways for reducing air pollution and improve public health,” said Samir Sheikh, executive director and air pollution control officer for the Valley Air District, in a news release.
“We appreciate this national recognition of the hard work by our residents and Air District staff to reduce wood burning emissions where it matters the most, in our communities where we live, work, and play.”
Harmful Effects of Woodsmoke
Residential wood-burning emissions are among the largest sources of direct PM2.5 in the Valley during the winter months. In addition, scientific research links prolonged inhalation of woodsmoke to a variety of negative health effects.
Reducing wood burning emissions began in 1993 with a voluntary program to educate the public on the health effects of wood burning, and the strategy has been significantly strengthened since.
Valley Has Nation’s Strictest Rules
In 2019, the EPA designated the District’s Rule 4901 (the regulation that limits residential wood burning in the Valley) as the most stringent measure in the nation for residential wood burning.
The district also conducts extensive enforcement to ensure rule compliance, provides incentives to assist with upgrading to cleaner devices, and conducts strong outreach and education to inform residents of the health impacts of woodsmoke.
$49 Million for Residents to Replace Wood Burning Stoves
The district’s Fireplace & Woodstove Change-out Program provides incentives to help residents replace wood burning devices with electric or gas options. Since 2009, approximately 27,000 vouchers totaling nearly $49 million have been distributed to Valley residents.
The program aims to help residents overcome financial obstacles in purchasing more health-protective technology. This has been done with help from collaborating hearth retailers who eliminate the need for low-income residents to pay out of pocket.
Residents looking to replace their old devices can visit www.valleyair.org/change-out or call (559) 230-5800.