The I See Smoke App is here! Report smoke pollution with this easy tool

October 29th, 2014
By: Mollie Simon

For those affected by wood smoke pollution, the Clean Air Council’s I See Smoke program has rolled out a new tool that makes reporting violations and taking action easy. The new I See Smoke map allows users to find their location and share information and photos of the smoke pollution in their neighborhood.

iseesmoke base map

Full instructions on how to use the map can be found here

By using the app, community members fill out information about the pollution they see. That information then gets passed on to the Clean Air Council, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, and all appropriate county health agencies. This streamlines the reporting process and makes sure that all violations are being reported to the agencies that oversee air quality enforcement.

“As someone who has managed asthma since childhood, I am often afflicted by smoke pollution from open burning in Allegheny County,” said Don Van Kirk of Franklin Park. “It burns your eyes, stings your lungs and is more than just a nuisance, it is debilitating. This is a great tool to report violations”

Wood smoke pollution can be extremely harmful for those who live nearby. The burning of biomass, such as wood, results in high levels of soot, particulate matter, and carcinogenic material being released with comparatively little energy produced.  Everyone’s health can be impacted but especially children with their developing lungs and the elderly.

Check out this easy to use and innovative tool and report wood smoke pollution in your neighborhood. Speaking up for clean air will help to protect your health and the health of your community.

Open Burning Hearing in Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Health Department public hearing on Open Burning http://www.achd.net/air/index.php  is coming up next week on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at 10:00 AM, in the First Floor Conference Room at Building #7 of the Clack Health Center, 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 for proposed amendments to Rules and Regulations on Open Burning.  If you want to comment in person, please contact the Department at least 24 hours before the meeting at 412-578-8120.
Clean Air Council proposes for maximum health protection a “no burn alternative” for the amendments to Allegheny County Air Regulations.  https://iseesmokepa.org/2014/02/10/model-legislation-on-banning-open-burning/  Below are the direct links to the notice and the proposed regulation change:
Contact Thurman Brendlinger at brendlinger@cleanair.org or 215-567-4004, Ext. 104 if you plan on presenting comments or have questions about the issue. 

Hearing on Open Burning Regulations for Allegheny County

Join the Campaign

Join Clean Air Council  at the upcoming Allegheny County Health Department public hearing on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at 10:00 AM,  to voice your support and present you comments on a No Burn Alternative in Allegheny County.  The hearing will be held in the First Floor Conference Room at Building #7 of the Clack Health Center, 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 for proposed amendments to Rules and Regulations on Open Burning.
Contact Thurman Brendlinger, brendlinger@cleanair.org or 215-567-4004, Ext. 104 if you plan on presenting comments or have questions about the issue.

Click on the image below to view or download the entire fact sheet.

ISeeSmoke.ModelLegislation.OpenBurning

Better Burning Practices

All wood burning produces particulate matter and hazardous chemicals.  However, if you are going to burn wood, then it is important  to make sure you are following the best practices. Proper techniques can minimize emissions and reduce threats to public health.  Always make sure to:

  • Use dry, seasoned wood.
  • Burn hardwoods like oak, in place of soft ones like pine.
  • Never burn trash, plastic or pressure-treated woods.
  • Avoid using an accelerator like gasoline to start a fire.
  • Don’t leave a dying fire to smolder. It produces more air pollution and presents a safety hazard.
  • Check your local air quality forecast before you burn.

If you burn indoors:

  • Keep air vents clear of ashes.
  • Regularly clean your chimney or flue.
  • Upgrade to an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert.  These burn cleaner, more efficiently, and emit less particle matter.

Read the full article from Pittsburgh Today by clicking here.

Clean Air Council Comments on Proposed Regulations for OWBs

On May 5, 2014, Clean Air Council submitted joint comments with Environmental Defense Fund and Hoosier Environmental Council on EPA’s rule proposing new source performance standards for residential wood heaters.  Current EPA standards for new wood heaters were issued in 1988 and have remained unchanged despite the Clean Air Act requirement that EPA review, and if appropriate, revise standards every 8 years.  More protective standards are more than 18 years overdue.  The current outdated standards do not cover hydronic heaters and furnaces (also known as outdoor wood-fired boilers and furnaces) as well as many other types of wood stoves.  Modern wood stoves, furnaces, and hydronic heaters are capable of achieving much lower emissions and higher efficiencies than current standards require, meaning new stoves can provide significant health and economic benefits to families across the nation.  The Council’s comments requested, generally, that EPA finalize more protective standards.  More specifically, the comments:

  • Examine the harmful impact of wood smoke on communities across the nation;
  • Highlight the tremendous health and economic benefits of the proposed rule;
  • Support the broad application of health-protective standards to furnaces, hydronic heaters and previously unregulated wood stoves;
  • Request that the proposed 2015 “Step 1” emission standards for wood stoves be made more protective by ensuring that certification extensions are not granted to high-polluting wood stoves;
  • Urge EPA to finalize the more protective proposed “Step 2” standards for new wood stoves, and require earlier compliance with those standards;
  • Urge EPA to finalize proposed Step 1 and Step 2 standards for new  hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces, but require earlier compliance with Step 2 and include time-based emission standards for Step 2 units;
  • Support many of the improvements EPA has proposed in the test methods for these devises;
  • Recommend additional steps to ensure the integrity of compliance certification procedures;
  • Request EPA continue to require temporary hangtags for all new devices covered by this rule to help consumers make informed decisions about energy savings and public health; and
  • Respond to EPA’s request for comment on visible emission limitation

Open Burning Ban Update for Allegheny County

On January 21, 2014 Clean Air Council attended a Regulation Subcommittee meeting of Allegheny County Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee to present a “No Burn” Model proposal to the committee to consider for revision of its open burning regulations. The suggestion was supported by the American Lung Association in a letter to the committee.  Also attending the meeting in support of the model regulation was the Executive Director of Women for a Healthy Environment.  By consensus vote the proposal was rejected by the committee which pursued options less protective of public health.

As a follow up, Clean Air Council attended the March 11, 2014 meeting of the Regulation Subcommittee.  The Council did not comment on the specific wording changes of the regulation being addressed by the subcommittee proceedings.  The Council did comment at the end of the considerations that protection of public health was not being maximized by the County’s revised regulation and objected that it was being recommended to the full Allegheny County Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee in its present form.  The Chairman of the Regulation Subcommittee recognized the Council’s objection and invited  comment in the public comment period after approval by the whole Advisory Committee.