Improved wintertime Calif. Valley air, fewer violation citations issued

San Joaquin Valley air between Nov. 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013 was considerably cleaner than it was this time a year ago. This is based on two metrics: fewer wood-burning prohibitions (bans) and corresponding citations issued.

Fireplace_Burning[1]The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) in its Mar. 1, 2013 news release: “Better air quality, fewer wood-burning bans this winter,” claims: “The annual wintertime program that reduces dangerous particle pollution ended its 10th season Feb. 28. During the 2012-13 season, there were 187 curtailments District-wide (San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the Valley portion of Kern counties). This compares to 381 curtailments during the 2011-12 season, representing a decrease of over 50 percent Valleywide, in the number of curtailment days from last season.”

By “last season,” the presumption is the SJVAPCD means the period from Nov. 1, 2011 to Feb. 28, 2012.

Also fewer were the number of issued citations to those committing violations.

The SJVAPCD reports that Valleywide there were 360 total citations issued for violations during the winter 2012-‘13 season, less than half what they for the same period of time a year ago when total violations numbered 827.

One of the more interesting statistics was for Merced County in which area residents were issued 119 wood-burning citations during the 2011-‘12 season but only two in the 2012-‘13 season.

My immediate reaction is why the difference. Was it because there was a far greater mixing of the air this time compared to last time around that made the difference? Curtailments or prohibitions were two in 2012-‘13 compared to 33 in 2011-‘12. That might have a lot to do with it.

Adds the SJVAPCD in the release: “There were just three days during this winter when air quality was ‘unhealthy’ in any county, compared to 41 such days last winter. Also, the number of days when air quality was rated ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ decreased by 54 percent over last winter.”

The corresponding statistics aren’t ideal, obviously, but they’re a far cry from what they were last year. The hope is the numbers and conditions improvement continues.

– Alan Kandel