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Check Before You Burn – It’s back

Check Before You Burn – It’s back

Rule 4901, the pioneering residential wood-burning regulation which the San Joaquin Valley Air District was first in the state to adopt, returns to active duty on Nov. 1 for the 10th “Check Before You Burn” season.

The rule, which requires that residential wood burning be curtailed in each Valley county forecast to be in danger of exceeding the federal health standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is recognized for reducing PM2.5 levels since 2003.

It is also credited as playing a major role in the Valley’s PM10 attainment in 2006.

Residential wood burning is the largest source of PM during winter months, emitting an average of 17 tons per day Valley-wide.

Stagnant winter conditions in the Valley keep PM at ground level, often building to high concentrations. Exposure can cause lung infections, aggravate asthma, and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Stockton man fined $100,000 for unlawful refilling and transporting of compressed natural gas

Stockton man fined $100,000 for unlawful refilling and transporting of compressed natural gas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Tuesday, October 2, 2012, United States District Judge John Mendez sentenced James Richard Giles, 59, of Stockton, to a $100,000 fine and five years of supervised release for willful and unlawful refilling of a compressed natural gas cylinder that was overdue for its five-year requalification and then offering it for transportation, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced

Unusual conditions prompt new Air Alert

Unusual conditions prompt new Air Alert

High temps, emissions push ozone levels up

Unusual late-season high temperatures and stagnant atmospheric conditions, combined with vehicle emissions, have prompted local air officials to declare the second Air Alert of the year, Saturday through Wednesday.

Air Alerts are declared Valley-wide when conditions are favorable for ozone levels to exceed the federal 1-hour ozone standard unless action is taken to prevent them from increasing.

“Thanks to the public’s understanding of this issue and their efforts to reduce emissions, we’ve had a good summer so far, and we’re on track for the first August and September ever with no one-hour ozone exceedances,” said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District’s executive director and air pollution control officer. “But we’re facing abnormal conditions this week and it’s critical to minimize our emissions.”

New law expected to divert more waste

New law expected to divert more waste

While businesses and residents in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties recycle more items than ever, things are about to get even greener thanks to a new state law.

“On July 1, 2012, (Assembly Bill) 341 required about 470,000 California businesses and apartments to recycle,” said Chad Wilson, area director of recycling operations for Waste Management Inc., which provides a variety of residential and commercial trash collection and recycling services in the cities of Lodi, Stockton, Ripon, Waterford, and Hughson, and the unincorporated areas of the two counties.

Air District offers electric equipment to commercial lawn care operators

Air District offers electric equipment to commercial lawn care operators

Zero-emission program promotes air-friendly practices

Commercial lawn care operators are invited to participate in a pilot program to use and evaluate zero-emission lawn and garden equipment. 

The Valley Air District is accepting applications through Sept. 20 for the new Cordless Zero-Emission Commercial Lawn and Garden Equipment Demonstration Program. The pilot program is open only to commercial lawn care operations located in the Valley air basin and must be used in non-residential applications. 

Participating companies can choose from a list of approved vendors offering battery-operated equipment that includes commercial-rated, self-propelled and cordless lawnmowers, sweepers, blowers, chain saws and trimmers.  An Air District grant program will fund the demonstration equipment for companies and public agencies selected for the program.

Season’s first Air Alert planned for next week

Season’s first Air Alert planned for next week

Annual program calls for action to keep ozone levels low

As Valley schools go back into session and vehicle traffic picks up, Air District officials are gearing up for the first Air Alert episode of 2012.

The annual air quality-notification program addresses elevated ozone (smog) levels that correlate to increased vehicle use, including back-to-school traffic. About 80 percent of the Valley’s ozone is caused by mobile sources. During back-to-school week, vehicle idling is also a major air-quality concern.

“We are asking people to refrain from idling their vehicles when dropping off or picking up schoolchildren,” said Jaime Holt, the District’s chief communications officer.

Air officials were encouraged by the public’s reception to the first Air Alert notifications in 2011 and anticipate a similar response this year.

Wildfire smoke impacts northern counties: Air officials warn of smoke emissions through weekend

Wildfire smoke impacts northern counties: Air officials warn of smoke emissions through weekend

Smoke from a wildfire near the northern boundaries of the San Joaquin Valley air basin is impacting San Joaquin County, with potential impacts in Stanislaus and Merced counties.

Air officials said the pattern may continue through the weekend, and encourage residents in these areas to monitor their local air quality and take appropriate precautions as needed.

“Our standard is, if you can smell smoke, you are being affected by it,” said Jaime Holt, the District’s chief communications officer.

Smoke produces large quantities of particulate matter, which can exacerbate or cause respiratory disease and lung damage.

The fire in Plumas County is producing smoke that is remaining in the air basin because of a stagnant high-pressure system.