Salt Lake City, Utah – For Utahns, enjoying a bonfire in your backyard or a roaring wood fire in your living room could be a thing of the past. Wood burning restrictions went into effect Nov. 1. These restrictions aim to help reduce hard-to-see particle pollution that builds up during winter inversion periods.
This past March, the Utah Legislature passed the “Wood Burning Amendments” bill, which creates funding for public awareness campaigns about the effects of wood burning on air quality as well as converting homes along the Wasatch Front whose sole source is wood burning to decrease air pollution.
The Division of Air Quality describes the effect of wood smoke on its smoke abatement page:
“Wood smoke is extremely dirty and carries with it both particulate matter and toxic compounds that significantly worsen our air quality. Wood smoke also travels across a broad area: not only are the people living in the home with the fire impacted, but their neighbors and others are as well, as the fine particles of the wood smoke are able to penetrate inside other homes from the outside.”
The DAQ created a phone app to help better communicate the health implications and activity restrictions related to air pollution. This alert system is available for Android and iOS users. People who utilize the app will receive burn-ban alerts, three-day forecasts to help plan the best times to exercise outdoors and when to make consolidated trips for errands based on the current condition.
“The Utah Air App is our most popular tool because Utahns can quickly click on the information they need at anytime and anywhere,” said Bryce Bird, director of DAQ. “This is important information people can access in order to make daily decisions that will improve air quality during the upcoming winter inversion season.”
People may be fined if they do not follow the state’s mandatory time restrictions. “It is a violation to use wood burning stoves on a red air day. To use a stove during that time violates state law and that code has been in effect for several years,” said the bill’s Floor Sponsor Sen. Curtis Bramble.
People may not realize wood smoke contains some of the same toxins as tobacco. Some of these toxins include carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide. However, wood smoke contains toxic chemicals such as dioxin that is not found in cigarette smoke.
There are many homes in greater Salt Lake City whose sole source of heat is a wood burning stove or fireplace. So, Breath Utah, who is working with DAQ, will be using grant money to help homeowners replace their fireplace or stove with a much cleaner furnace or fireplace. Five homes were selected as an initial test project.
With the new restrictions as well as homes replacing wood burning stoves, Salt Lake City is taking the initiative to improve air quality during the winter inversion season. If you need help with your waste removal needs, check out our Salt Lake City Dumpster Rentals.