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County air quality department encourages wood-burning alternatives

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Air Quality Department is asking residents to consider alternatives to burning wood this holiday season.

As part of its “Burn Cleaner, Burn Better” campaign, the agency suggested using gas or electric fire pits or fireplaces instead.

The Maricopa County Fireplace Retrofit Program offers residents a free pollution reduction device or a voucher for natural gas installation to reduce smoke pollution.

To be eligible for the program, residents must live within the boundaries of Northern Avenue, 16th Street, Baseline Road and 59th Avenue.

The county’s Propane Fire Pit Program offers residents a $75 voucher to purchase an outdoor propane fire pit, also in an effort to improve air quality.

“Our Air Quality Department has developed successful partnerships with other agencies, private businesses, community organizations and residents to come up with programs that work,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Chucri said in a press release Monday.

“I want Maricopa County to be just as livable for my children as it has been for me. That means we all have to work together to keep developing solutions for better air quality.”

The problem with burning wood, the department said, is that the resulting smoke poses a health threat to children with asthma, the elderly and others with respiratory issues.

Soot particles can also be absorbed into the bloodstream and increase chances of a heart attack, the department said.

It added that an abundance of wood-burning activities could cause the county to fall out of compliance with federal regulations.

“The spirit of the season compels us to remember our neighbors and the impact that our actions have on others,” Philip McNeely, Maricopa County Air Quality director, said in the release.

“Please, burn cleaner, burn better and abide by the no-burn day restrictions.”

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