Wood Burning Appliances and Air Quality

Yolo-Solano AQMDDid you know that during certain weather conditions it is unhealthy to use wood burning appliances such as fireplaces and woodstoves?  In an effort to keep pollution levels of particulate matter below the health-based standards, the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District (YSAQMD) runs the “Don’t Light Tonight” (DLT) Program.

The DLT program is a voluntary program during the fall and winter in which the YSAQMD asks residents not to use their woodstoves and fireplaces when air pollution approaches unhealthy levels. Concentrations of particulate matter can reach high levels due to low lying air inversions. These inversions trap pollutants close to ground level affecting the air we breathe. These cold weather conditions, coupled with the increased use of fireplaces and woodstoves, can create pollution levels that lead not only to poor air quality but also to health problems for some residents.

The YSAQMD tracks levels of particulate matter and in Yolo and Solano County and provides bulletins on their website (www.ysaqmd.org).   Residents may also subscribe to the EnvrioFlash service to receive emailed updates on the program, or call the District at (530) 757-3787 to get DLT Program status.

When using your woodstove or fireplace, please take the following steps to reduce wood smoke pollution this winter:

  • Always burn small pieces of aged, dry hardwood.
  • When storing wood, stack it under cover in a dry ventilated area.
  • Never burn household trash, chemically treated or painted wood.
  • Stack wood loosely in your firebox, so plenty of air circulates around it.
  • Keep the flame active.
  • Don’t let your fire smolder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  • Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning.
  • If you are buying a wood stove or insert, make sure it is EPA-certified.
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