Activist groups are planning to ask Utah’s state Air Quality Board to support a complete ban on wood burning for Utah's urban counties.
Wood burning is already prohibited on red air quality days, when winter inversions trap stagnant air in the valleys of the Wasatch Front. But research published earlier this year by University of Utah researcher Kerry Kelly shows wood smoke is a bigger contributor to the ultra-fine PM 2.5 particles than previously known. She analyzed samples taken in Lindon, Bountiful and at Hawthorne Elementary School in Salt Lake City.
Kelly tells KUER, “What we found at Hawthorne was that wood burning and cooking, because I can’t resolve those two things, those two sources together are roughly the equivalent of gasoline-fueled vehicles. So that’s pretty significant.”
Because she’s a member of the Air Quality Board, Kelly isn’t making a policy recommendation. But Doctor Brian Moench with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment says the board could endorse the idea of a year-round wood burning ban. Then local governments and the legislature could act on that. Moench says wood burning is most harmful to people who use stoves and fireplaces in their homes and to their close neighbors, but it affects the broader community as well.