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Some U.S. cities snuffing out traditional fireplaces

wood-burning
Officials say that during winter, wood-burning fireplaces can account for as much as 40 percent of pollutants in the air  

July 2, 2000
Web posted at: 9:03 p.m. EDT (0103 GMT)


In this story:

24 municipalities take action

Industry says law goes too far

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- Traditional wood-burning fireplaces have run afoul of efforts to ensure cleaner air.

Environmental officials, taking the fight against pollution inside the home, say smoke from such fireplaces accounts for as much as 40 percent of pollutants in the air during winter.

"There are voluminous health studies in the United States that show when particulate levels are higher, there are increased hospital visits and, in fact, increased mortality," said Terry Lee, of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in California.

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VideoReporter Amber Lee explains why traditional fireplaces have fallen out of favor in some U.S. cities
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24 municipalities take action

In San Jose, California, a recently passed ordinance forbids traditional fireplaces in newly built homes, which must resort either to a natural gas fireplace or one that is federally approved to burn wood or pellets.

Similar ordinances have passed in 23 other cities in the United States.

Air quality experts say the outlawing of wood-burning fireplaces is especially critical in California, where the population continues to boom.

With the environmentally safe fireplaces allowed by San Jose's ordinance, you can still get the expected crackle and look, said City Councilwoman Linda Lezotte. "The only thing you don't get is the smell of wood."

Industry says law goes too far

A spokesman for the trade association representing the fireplace industry says ordinances such as that passed in San Jose are unfair.

"There are clean burning, low-emission wood fireplaces that could have been part of this process, and they're not," said John Crouch of Hearth Products Association.

Other critics of the San Jose ordinance say it doesn't do enough to prevent pollution because it exempts existing homes with fireplaces.

Correspondent Amber Lee contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Study links particle pollution with deaths, hospitalizations
June 29, 2000
Smog spells invisible damage for crops
June 27, 2000
U.S. EPA launches hearings on reducing sulfur in diesel fuel
June 19, 2000
Bad air days
May 24, 2000
Report: No part of U.S. immune from dirty air
May 23, 2000
EPA proposes tough rules on heavy truck pollutants
May 17, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Health Effects Institute
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
Maryland Department of Environment
Committee for the National Institute for the Environment

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