Did you know? One wood fireplace emits the same amount of particulate pollution as 90 SUVs and one wood-burning stove pollutes as much as 3,000 natural gas furnaces.
This week’s Clean Air Champion tip is about wood burning.
Even though burning wood is festive at this time of year, it’s a significant polluter (estimated to contribute 5-26% of total pollution on a winter day, according to a presentation from Dr. Kelly Kerry to UCAIR).
Before you burn, make sure to check to see if it’s a no burn day.
The Salt Lake County Health Department prohibits burning solid fuel in fireplaces or wood burning stoves and bans outdoor fires (including bonfires, patio pits, and charcoal grill fires) on days that the State of Utah designates as either mandatory or voluntary air action (no burn) days.
During the winter, when high pressure rolls in, pollution builds up.
Specifically pollution called PM2.5 which are tiny particles that actually obscure our view of the mountains and even of neighboring buildings on bad days.
The Division of Air Quality operates monitors at several locations across the Wasatch Front, but pollution concentrations can vary depending on where exactly you’re located. Contributing factors include:
- Do you live next to a road?
- Do you have a neighbor who frequently fires up their meat smoker or burns wood?
- Is there a nearby restaurant or small business that releases precursor pollutants?
- On top of all those factors– what is happening with the particular mix of geography and weather at your location?
Air quality science is complex.
But gaining a better understanding of pollution nuances across the valley can help policy makers make better decisions, and can help residents better protect themselves. Read more