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Check Before You Burn Navigating Perceptions vs. Reality

Check Before You Burn Navigating Perceptions vs. Reality

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Check Before You Burn Navigating Perceptions vs. Reality

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  1. Check Before You BurnNavigating Perceptions vs. Reality Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District Jamie Arno and Lori Kobza April 8, 2008 National Air Quality Conference

  2. SMAQMD Rule 421Background Information • Public workshops and hearings took place in July, August and September 2007 • Board of Directors requested options • Very emotional and political topic • Rule 421 – Mandatory Episodic Curtailment of Wood and Solid Fuel Burning Restrictions was adopted October 25, 2007

  3. SMAQMD Rule 421Background continued • Four-level program based on new PM 2.5 standard (35 ug/m3) • Stage 2 – All Burning Prohibited (forecast to exceed 40 ug/m3) • Stage 1 – No Burn – Unless Exempt (36-40 ug/m3) • Burning Discouraged – Voluntary (26-35 ug/m3) • Burn Cleanly – No Restrictions (25 ug/m3 or lower) • Program uses micrograms per cubic meter, not AQI numbers

  4. Outreach Challenges • First season: December 1, 2007 – February 29, 2008 (in future it will begin November 1) • Public needed to be aware of new law prior to December 1 • Public and media used to AQI, but new AQI not developed yet for lower PM 2.5 standard • SMAQMD chose not to use old standard’s AQI numbers • Limited outreach on PM and wood smoke had just started in 2006 so topic relatively new to public

  5. Outreach Summary • Web site coverage: • www.AirQuality.org • www.SpareTheAir.com • Daily features: • Burn status category (same day and next day forecasts) – with category descriptions • Frequently asked questions • Rule 421 text • Exemption details • Link to District’s wood stove changeout incentive program

  6. Outreach Summary • Over 600 business and community partners distributed Check Before You Burn brochure and Frequently Asked Questions flier • Schools, retailers, chambers of commerce, Sacramento Association of REALTORS • 46,000 English brochures and fliers • 11,000 Spanish brochures and fliers • Established toll-free number: • 1-877-NO-BURN-5 (1-877-662-8765)

  7. Outreach Summary • Worked with TV meteorologists to get daily burn status mentioned as part of their report • Provided CD of Check Before You Burn category graphics to each station • All 5 local television stations placed Check Before You Burn on their Web sites linking viewers to the District’s daily burn page • Homeowners Association Web sites linked to daily burn page

  8. Outreach Summary • Sacramento Bee newspaper partnership effective with addition of daily burn status graphic to weather page • Print coverage was both immediate and ongoing: • Daily, bi-weekly, and monthly newspapers • Homeowners Association newsletters

  9. Advertising • Radio Commercial: • 11 weeks on 10 stations, both Spanish & English • $126,000 spent on radio buy • Print Ads: • 21 community newspapers throughout Sacramento County – including Spanish, Ukrainian and Chinese • Insertions in November, December and January • $30,000 spent on print advertising

  10. Media Challenges • Same media market as neighboring San Joaquin Valley Air District’s existing Check Before You Burn program • San Joaquin’s program currently based on old PM 2.5 standard (65 ug/m3) • San Joaquin higher threshold for no burn • Sacramento County would call more no burn days

  11. Media Challenges • Four level program with Stage 1 – No Burn – Unless Exempt allowing an extra exemption for EPA Phase II certified devices or pellet stoves • One TV/Web anchor and one radio personality encouraged the public to ignore the law and burn • Church of the Eternal Flame established on-line as anchor’s way of claiming Rule 421’s religious exemption • Radio personality aggressively and repeatedly attacked program – told people to burn

  12. Perceptions vs. Reality • Many misconceptions: 1. “This a total ban on fireplaces” – NO 2. “Manufactured firelogs are ok to use on no-burn day” – NO 3. “Police should be tracking down criminals, not looking for smoke” – Law enforcement not involved, District has own enforcement staff

  13. Perception and Reality Perceptions vs. Reality • Misconceptions continued: 4. “You don’t have the right to knock on my door” – Nobody sets foot on property, visual detection only 5. “There’s nothing wrong with wood smoke” – health effects are indisputable, but public awareness is critical to acceptance of no burn

  14. PM 2.5 Forecasting Issues • Forecasting PM 2.5 is the same as forecasting ozone – NO • Ozone vs. Particles: • Ozone – gas created through a single reaction of precursors in sunlight • Without a given set of ingredients, high ozone does not occur • PM 2.5 – made up of many different chemical compounds, which can form in different ways • Sunlight-driven chemical reactions • Formed in presence of water (i.e. fog or clouds) • Directly emitted from sources (i.e. fireplaces)

  15. PM 2.5 Forecasting Issues • Needed to quickly revamp forecast tools and techniques • Forecast for lower PM 2.5 concentration cutpoints than used in 2006-07 program • Forecast to accommodate 4-level Check Before You Burn program • The smallest No Burn category only encompasses 5 ug/m3 • Stage 1: 35.5 to 40.4 ug/m3

  16. Success Story – so far! • Air Alert e-mail notification system added 2,278 Sacramento County subscribers through December • Toll-free daily burn status line 877-NOBURN-5 (877-662-8765) generated almost 21,000 calls in the first month alone • Survey in December showed 64% of respondents recalled seeing or hearing an ad about the Check Before You Burn program telling them to visit a Web site or dial a toll-free number each day

  17. Success Story – so far! • 82% of respondents aware that burning wood in residential fireplaces causes pollution (up from 76% in 2006) • 21 visual detections by enforcement staff on the Stage 1 – No Burn days (8) • 120 letters sent out based on citizen complaints (compared to 19 last year without Check Before You Burn)