Beach Fire Monitoring Results

Preliminary results indicate that smoke from beach fires is impacting air quality in nearby residential areas.

Public Hearing and Public Consultation Meetings

Additional information:

Beach Fire Monitoring Results

In conjunction with the Governing Board’s consideration of a prohibition on burning of wood and other biomass fuels at beaches, SCAQMD is conducting air monitoring and sampling in areas adjacent to beaches with fire rings. Given the health effects related to wood smoke exposure, the purpose of this effort is to assess the potential for human exposure to wood smoke from beach fires. 

Preliminary results indicate that smoke from beach fires is impacting air quality in nearby residential areas. SCAQMD has operated air monitors at Corona del Mar, Balboa Island, Huntington Beach and Dockweiler State Beach since late March, using both mobile and fixed air monitoring devices. Tests were conducted for particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) as well as black carbon and ultrafine particles.

Measured levels of particulates varied widely depending on weather conditions, the level of beach fire activity, and location. In parking lots near beach fire pits, fine particulate pollution concentrations from wood smoke were as much as 10 times higher than typical background levels. In nearby residential areas, particulate concentrations were up to three times higher than background levels.

These levels of fine particulate from wood smoke did not exceed the federal 24-hour standard for PM2.5, but they did exceed public health guidance levels for shorter-term exposures.

Wood smoke contains toxic, cancer-causing chemicals as well as common combustion pollutants such as nitrogen oxides. Numerous health studies during wildfires, and in communities where large amounts of wood or other biomass is burned, show that wood smoke causes respiratory irritation and an increase in hospital admissions for respiratory problems.

SCAQMD plans to continue air monitoring at fixed sites near beaches in the near term, and will report results to the public as they are available.

Below are links to presentations on the potential health effects related to wood smoke exposure and a summary of preliminary results from the air monitoring efforts. A link is also provided to the staff report presented at the May 3, 2013 Public Hearing by the SCAQMD Governing Board regarding open burning at beach areas. An addendum to the staff report will be issued to incorporate the monitoring data and modifications to the original draft rule are under consideration. 

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Asst. Deputy Exec. Officer
Philip Fine
(909) 396-2239
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