Why do we need “Healthy Hearths”?

The Healthy Hearths initiative was created to reduce pollution and protect public health from the harmful emissions of wood burning. Despite steady progress toward improved air quality, Southern California still has the worst pollution in the country. This could result in about 5,000 premature deaths each year in this region. From switching to electric lawnmowers to using your fireplace responsibly, every small step toward cleaner air will help protect your respiratory health.

So take part in Healthy Hearths and help Southern California in these ways:

Reduce Pollution Caused by Wood Burning
Wood burning creates an average of 5 tons of harmful PM2.5 emissions per day in the South Coast Air Basin. That’s four times the amount of PM2.5 emitted from all of the power plants in the area! And it’s even worse in the winter, when wood burning is at its peak. From November through February, pollution from wood burning has been estimated to cause more than 10 tons per day of PM2.5emissions.

Since November 1, 2011, wood burning has been prohibited during winter months (November through the end of February) in specific areas where PM2.5 is forecast to reach unhealthy levels.

Although the Healthy Hearths initiative only prohibits wood-burning devices innew homes, those who own existing homes can burn cleaner too. There are plenty of wood-burning alternatives and resources to help you switch to cleaner burning gas log sets.

Reduce Health Risks Caused by Wood Burning

Pollution from wood smoke contains very small particles known as PM2.5. These particles are 2.5 microns in diameter – that’s 1/30th the width of a human hair! Because it’s so small, PM2.5 can lodge deep in the lungs and cause a variety of respiratory health problems.

Long-term exposure to PM2.5 can lead to reduced lung function and chronic bronchitis. In some cases, prolonged exposure to this harmful substance may even lead to premature death. Short-term exposure can make existing respiratory conditions such as asthma or lung disease worse. It may also increase the risk of respiratory infections, and those with heart disease could even be at risk for heart attacks or arrhythmias. Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the effects of PM2.5.

To learn more, watch our Healthy Hearths video here.

For more information about Healthy Hearths, contact us at HealthyHearths@aqmd.gov