"Check Before You Burn" Season Closes With Significant Reduction In No-Burn Days

El Niño Favorably Impacts Air Quality Throughout Region

Mar 02, 2016, 13:32 ET from South Coast Air Quality Management District

LOS ANGELES, March 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) today announced that the 2015-2016 "Check Before You Burn" season has ended with significantly fewer no-burn days compared to the previous year. Mandatory no-burn days are designed to protect public health by reducing harmful wood smoke during fall and winter months.

The 2015-2016 "Check Before You Burn" season ended on Feb. 29 with 14 no-burn days – a significant decrease compared to the previous season with 25 no-burn days. Under the program, no-burn day alerts are issued for Orange County and non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties when fine particulate air pollution levels are forecast to be unhealthful.  During a no-burn day, residents are not allowed to burn wood in their fireplaces.

In recent years, severe drought conditions worsened air quality. Dry soil and winds boosted concentrations of coarse and fine particles in the air. Drought conditions also reduced the natural cleansing effect that typically occurs with precipitation, including winds that help carry air pollution away from the region. 

This year, El Niño weather patterns brought unsettled atmospheric conditions to the region, helping to keep fine particulate air pollution levels lower than in previous years. This resulted in cleaner air and fewer no-burn days.

"While El Niño hasn't yet produced the amount of rain many were expecting, it has had a significant impact on Southern California air quality," said Barry R. Wallerstein, SCAQMD's executive officer.

"From one year to the next, weather plays a major role in air quality," Wallerstein added. "However over the past decade we have seen a dramatic reduction in fine particulate levels due to our comprehensive air pollution control program."

Wood smoke is a complex mixture of gases and microscopic fine particles – also known as particulate matter or PM2.5 – so small they can get deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems. Wood smoke is also known to contain many of the same carcinogens as second-hand cigarette smoke.

Fine particulate air pollution is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, asthma attacks and potential low birth weights in newborns. Populations at greatest risk from the effects of wood smoke include the elderly, children, people with heart and lung disease and pregnant women.

No-burn alerts are issued one day in advance and last for 24 hours. Residents can sign-up to receive e-mail alerts at www.AirAlerts.org to learn when a mandatory no-burn alert has been issued.

SCAQMD's no-burn alerts do not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet in elevation, or the Coachella Valley. Homes that rely on wood as a sole source of heat, low-income households and those without natural gas service are also exempt.

The Check Before You Burn program is in effect every year form November 1 through the end of February, when particulate levels are highest.  

For additional information on wood smoke and your health, and to sign up to receive no-burn alerts, visit www.AirAlerts.org.

No-Burn Days Per Year (November through February)

"Check Before You Burn" Season

Total No-Burn Days






(Dec. 3, Dec. 910, Jan. 1320 and Feb. 2729)


SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. 

CONTACT:  Sam Atwood at SCAQMD 
Tues Fri, 7 a.m.5:30 p.m.:  (909) 396-3456
After-hours and weekends:  (909) 720-9056

Cynthia Smith at Sensis
(917) 405-0060


SOURCE South Coast Air Quality Management District