October 16, 2007
Where There's Fire, There's Still Ribs

Directors of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District next week will consider adopting a rule to ban the use of fireplaces and wood stoves on "no-burn days."

The public's health is the impetus. Air-pollution authorities fret that particles in wood smoke curling from chimneys aggravate and harm respiratory systems. The rule would restrict Sacramento County residents from burning wood in their fireplaces only during the 25 to 30 days a year when particulate pollution is most severe.

As a health measure, the proposed rule also potentially could help relieve the nation's obesity epidemic, but air-pollution authorities aren't going that far. Pizza parlors with wood-fired ovens, barbecue joints with wood-fired smokers and any other cooking device that relies on wood for fuel would be exempt from the restriction, says Christina Ragsdale, spokeswomen for the district.

And what of those few people who on occasion may use their home fireplace to grill some chops, which while unusual here isn't unheard of in France? The district board didn't anticipate that possibility and didn't address it in the proposal, says Ragsdale. She suspects, however, that it wouldn't be allowed because the fireplace likely hadn't been built primarily for cooking. "If they had no other means to cook, that might be allowed, but it's unlikely. They may have to be approached on a case by case basis," she added.

The district's directors are to take up the proposed rule at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in the chambers of the Sacramento County board of supervisors, room 1450 of the county's administration building, 700 H St.

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