Wood Burning Causes over 50 Percent of Winter Pollution in Sacramento County


Winter is in full swing, which means it’s chilly outside! Some of us think of enjoying a hot beverage and snuggling up by a warm fire this time of year. However, it is important to check the Daily Burn Status in the Sacramento region before you light the wood in that fireplace or stove. To check, go to airquality.org.

The Sacramento area struggles with a different kind of air pollution this time of year, fine particle pollution (aka “particulates” or PM 2.5) from wood smoke. These small particles released during burning can have a negative health impact on lungs. These particles can travel deep into the lungs and eventually the blood stream, causing breathing problems for the youngest, oldest, and lung-compromised residents. Short-term exposure to particles (hours or days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Long-term exposures (months or years) have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis—and even premature death.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) determines whether it is safe to burn on a daily basis during November through February. No Burn days are called when weather conditions trap wood smoke near the ground. To protect public health and achieve federal air quality standards, it’s illegal to burn wood, pellets, manufactured logs or any other solid fuel when fine particle pollution is forecast to be high. This applies to indoor or outdoor fireplaces, wood stoves, fire pits and chimneys. Gas fireplaces are not included in this rule and may be used anytime.

The Daily Burn Status is posted every day during November – February in one of these four categories:

There are lots of ways to find out if you can or cannot burn on any day, November – February:

  1. Call 1-877-NO-BURN-5 (1-877-662-8765)
  2. Follow SMAQMD on Twitter @AQMD
  3. Visit AirQuality.org
  4. Download the free Sacramento Region Air Quality app
  5. Sign up to get a daily Air Alert email at SpareTheAir.com – input your Sacramento County zip code and check the “Daily Air Quality Forecast” box
  6. Read The Sacramento Bee’s weather page

For additional information and resources go to: airquality.org/Residents/Fireplaces-Wood-Stoves/Check-Before-You-Burn