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Is It The End for Beach Bonfires?

Posted on May 16, 2013
by Wendy Stackhouse
Bonfire
Image by Peter Ehrlich via stock.xchng

At this time of year, many of us are participating in rituals and rites-of-passage: proms, promotions, graduations and even just the end of homework for the year deserves a ceremony.

Different parts of the country have different traditions to go along with these special moments. In New Jersey, we spent the night at the beach and watched the sunrise over the water. In California, it’s bonfires on the beach at and after sunset.

But will this tradition be allowed to continue?

We read in the Associated Press today that air quality officials have determined in preliminary testing that the wood smoke from beach bonfires not only pollutes the air at the beach, but also in nearby neighborhoods.

There are as many as 850 beach bonfires on the coast of Los Angeles and Orange Counties every summer and they may be affecting the air quality too much, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. In just 10 miles of beach, the City of Huntington Beach is host to 400 fire pits and rakes in almost $1 million in parking fees during beach season.

Testing in March (well before peak season) have shown ten times normal particle pollution in the parking areas near the fire pits and up to three times higher than normal in the surrounding neighborhoods. There are variations on the levels depending on wind and weather, but testing will go on. A ban on bonfires was supposed to go into effect on June 7th, but has been postponed pending further research.

With soot causing an EPA-estimated 40,000 premature deaths every year and costing as much as $4-9 billion in health care costs, study and thoughfulness are definitely in order. Perhaps there should be “no-burn” days, when the wind or the weather will make the smoke blow back into residential areas. At least the people on the beach are there by choice.

We will keep an eye out for updates on the issue of beach bonfires and air quality, but we wish all of you a very happy END OF SCHOOL!!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

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