The Latest

What Blocks Your Views, Chokes Your Neighbors and Is Slowly Getting Outlawed?

This fireplace was blocking views and heat from the sun. So the owners took it out.

This fireplace was blocking views and heat from the sun. So the owners took it out.

It’s your wood-burning fireplace, of course.

And they’re slowing going out of style, much to the dismay of fire devotees (and I used to be one).

Last weekend, I visited with a couple who took out their fireplace during a remodel. In this photo, you see a Santa Barbara home that also lost its fireplace during a remodel.

According to a report from the American Lung Assn., Los Angeles has the second sootiest air in the country, and burning wood is part of the problem. It’s not me saying it. It’s them.

Big things that need to happen, the association states, are protecting the Clean Air Act, cleaning up coal-fired power plants, cleaning up existing diesel engines and requiring ships calling on U.S. ports to burn cleaner fuels.

In the what-can-I-do category, the association makes these suggestions:

Drive less: Combine trips, walk, bike, carpool or vanpool, and use buses, subways or other alternatives to driving. Vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution. Support community plans that provide ways to get around that don’t require a car, such as more sidewalks, bike trails and transit systems.

Don’t burn wood or trash: Burning firewood and trash are among the largest sources of particles in many parts of the country. If you must use a fireplace or stove for heat, convert your woodstoves to natural gas, which has far fewer polluting emissions. Compost and recycle as much as possible and dispose of other waste properly; don’t burn it. Support efforts in your community to ban outdoor burning of construction and yard wastes. Avoid the use of outdoor hydronic heaters, also called outdoor wood boilers, which are often much more polluting than woodstoves.

Get involved: Participate in your community’s review of its air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up air pollution.

Use less electricity: Turn out the lights and use energy-efficient appliances. Generating electricity is one of the biggest sources of pollution, particularly in the eastern United States.

Send a message to decision makers: Send an e-mail or fax to urge Congress to oppose measures that weaken the Clean Air Act. Log on at

Now if your fireplace provides your only heat, or you only use your fireplace for roasting marshmallows on Christmas Eve, well, never mind!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.