California Wood Burning Fireplace Law

California residents who wish to curl up next to their fireplaces this winter should make sure they are not breaking the law in the process. Numerous counties have placed limitations on when wood burning fireplaces can be used out of the interest of public health. California fireplace laws also stipulate what kind of wood can be burned. Painted or treated wood cannot be burned.

A young woman lying on a rug talking to a young man sitting beside her
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Fireplace and couple.

Bad Air Days

Panoramic view of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
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Air pollution in Los Angeles, CA.

According to an article written in the Los Angeles Times on Mar 8, 2008, wood burning fireplaces cannot be used in Southern California on bad air days, or days with heavy air pollution. The South Coast Air Quality Management District board unanimously passed the ban and will issue fines to those who use wood burning fireplaces on polluted air days.

Purpose

Fire burning in fireplace
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Wood burning fireplace.

The purpose of wood burning fireplace laws in the state of California is to reduce the amount of pollution they place into the air. These pollutants include carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and volatile organic compounds. Once released into the air, these pollutants can cause breathing problems, headaches, confusion, dizziness, and even death.

Gas Burning

Fire flame
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Gas burning fireplace.

Some areas of California, such as the San Joaquin Valley, prohibit new homes from being constructed with a wood burning fireplace. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District passed Rule 4901 in 2003 stating that only gas burning fireplaces can be built into new homes.