With a very stagnant air mass over Northern California, wood burning was prohibited in Sacramento County over the weekend, and on again Monday.
The "stage two, all burning prohibited" restriction is expected to continue through at least Wednesday.
San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties have also placed restrictions on wood burning during this same period, though they have allowed burning in registered clean-burning devices.
"We have a responsibility to protect public health," explained Lori Kobza of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District. "And that's what the Check Before You Burn program is all about."
Nearly 50 percent of the particulate air pollution in Sacramento County during the winter comes from wood burning, according to Kobza.
"And yes, it gets into your lungs, but that fine particulate matter also gets into your bloodstream," Kobza warned. "It's very nasty stuff."
Children, elderly people, and those with pre-existing heart or lung conditions are especially vulnerable.
Representatives from the air quality management district go out on patrol to enforce the restrictions. Violations can cost $50 dollars, but many violators choose the option of taking a wood burning safety class in lieu of the fine.
People with special financial hardships and those for whom wood burning is the only source of home heat can apply for special exemptions from stage two restrictions with the air quality management district.
More information about the Check Before You Burn program in Sacramento County, and links to other regional air quality districts are available at www.sparetheair.com.