City residents get brief wood stove OK
A weekend storm broke up an inversion and flushed out a substantial buildup of pollutants from the Grand Valley. It was enough to give Grand Junction residents the OK to use their wood-burning stoves through 3 p.m. today, according to Ed Brotsky, air quality specialist at the Mesa County Health Department.
However, the go-ahead to burn may be short-lived, as another smoggy inversion is expected to blanket the Grand Valley in coming days.
Burn advisories on the Health Department website are indicated by a blue flame when burning is allowed and a red flame when burning is not allowed in stoves not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The symbols are used with weather information daily on Page 2A of The Daily Sentinel.
The restrictions are only for Grand Junction residents, and the system is complaint-driven, with any enforcement done by a code-enforcement officer.
Coal and pellet stoves, gas heaters and wood stoves that are EPA-approved are exempt from burning restrictions. About 8,000 to 10,000 people in the Grand Valley have wood-burning stoves that are not approved by the EPA, Brotsky said.
Although the advisories are designed for wood-burning practices, residents can also get a handle on local pollution with their driving habits. An increasing percentage of the Grand Valley’s local pollution is caused by emissions from driving and industry, Brotsky said.
Refraining from idling a vehicle, carpooling, using public transportation and walking or riding a bicycle to get around can help lower levels. These are things the Health Department is slowly trying to encourage while keeping tabs on local pollution levels.
The no-burn advisories are a small first step toward the overall goal of trying to encourage clean air practices, Brotsky said.
“The advisories are not to get people to change their habits all of the time but during these short periods,” he said.