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Water Quality officials ask for cleaner heating methods

Daily Planet Wire Report
Monday February 12, 2001

Bay Area Clean Water Agencies wants to light a fire under local residents to get them to change their ways. 

The group is asking people to cut down on their use of fireplaces and wood burning stoves during the cold winter months.  

Instead, they offer alternatives such as gas inserts or EPA certified pellet stones. 

“Wood burning is a major source of dioxin — the same pollutant that comes from diesel engines,'' said Phil Bobel, spokesman for Bay Area Clean Water Agencies.  

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently listed the San Francisco Bay as impaired due to the build-up of dioxins. 

“First, pollutants are released into the air,” Bobel said. “But they ultimately land in the water. It all goes back to the old adage:  

What goes up must come down.” 

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District's Teresa Lee is urging people not to try to lower their rising utility bills by using their fireplaces.  

“Even with the cold weather we've been having, it's still inefficient to try to heat your home using a fireplace,'' she said.  

“You'll be warmed if you sit within six feet of the fire, but the rest of your house is getting colder as outdoor air leaks in to replace the hot air that's gone up the chimney.” 

Water quality officials report that the National Toxicology Program announced that it is adding dioxin to a federal list of substances “known to be human carcinogens.” 

“It's very simple,” Bobel explains. “We need Bay area residents to consider cleaner burning alternatives so we can reduce pollution in the air and our waters.” 

For those who insist on building fires, the group suggests they use manufactured logs which are up to 50 percent cleaner than regular wood, avoid using soft woods like cedar, pine or redwood and never burn garbage, plastic, glossy or colored paper or scrap wood that has been painted or stained.