“The San Joaquin Valley has long worked together as a region to find innovative ways for reducing air pollution and improve public health” stated Samir Sheikh, Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer with the Valley Air District, “we appreciate this national recognition of the hard work by our residents and Air District staff to reduce wood burning emissions where it matters the most, in our communities where we live, work, and play.”
Residential wood-burning emissions are among the largest sources of direct PM2.5 in the Valley during the winter months and scientific research links prolonged inhalation of woodsmoke to a variety of health effects. The Valley began to address wood burning emissions in 1993 with a voluntary program to educate the public on the health effects of wood burning, and the strategy has been significantly strengthened over the years. In 2019, the EPA designated the District’s Rule 4901 (the regulation that limits residential wood-burning in the Valley) as the Most Stringent Measure in the nation for residential wood-burning. In addition to a strong regulation, the District conducts extensive enforcement to ensure rule compliance, provides incentives to assist with upgrading to cleaner devices, and conducts strong outreach and education to inform residents of the health impacts of woodsmoke.
The District’s Fireplace & Woodstove Change-out Program provides incentives to help residents replace wood-burning devices with electric or gas options. Since 2009, approximately 27,000 vouchers totaling nearly $49 million have been distributed to Valley residents. The program aims to help residents overcome financial obstacles in purchasing cleaner, more health protective technology while achieving cost-effective emission reductions. The District also utilizes a network of collaborating hearth retailers who are familiar with the program and provide instant reductions to low-income applicants, eliminating their need to pay out of pocket. Residents looking to change-out their old device can visit www.valleyair.org/change-out or call 559-230-5800.