Environment & Science

'No burn alert' means no burning wood in Southern California through Thursday

File: A fire pit in Orange County.
File: A fire pit in Orange County.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Los Angeles air quality officials are calling for a temporary halt to indoor and outdoor wood-burning, citing poor air quality in the region.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a "no burn alert" that will last from Wednesday until midnight Thursday. The alert orders people not to burn wood in fireplaces or pits.

Burning wood releases dangerous toxins into the air and can become a health problem when there's stagnant air with a buildup of fine particulate pollution. Atwood said that exposure to unhealthy levels of fine particulate pollution is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects — including death.

"We have seen fewer no burn alerts this winter than we did last year, primarily because of El Niño and the fact that we have had more stormy and rainy days," said Sam Atwood, spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. 

The no burn order impacts L.A., Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but officials say it doesn't extend to high desert and mountain areas above 3,000 feet.  

A screenshot of the Check Before You Burn map for Jan. 13.
A screenshot of the Check Before You Burn map for Jan. 13.
South Coast Air Quality Management District

The Check Before You Burn program, first begun in the winter by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, provides a map for residents to enter their zip code and check whether it's safe to burn wood in their area.

Atwood also recommended SoCal residents subscribe to Air Alerts to get updates about the air quality.