Remember the Yule log? No—not the one on TV. The one that used to blaze in your hearth (you do have a hearth, don’t you?).

That’s the old holiday tradition. The new holiday tradition is the reminder from Bay Area air-quality guardians to just say no to merry fireplace blazes. By way of Bay City News, Jack Broadbent, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s executive director, says this:

“This is the time of year when~ many residents choose to burn wood in their fireplaces, but this creates unhealthy air both inside and outside the home. We are asking residents to give the gift of clean air to their families and cut back on wood burning.”

Also not to burn, in your fireplace or anywhere, now or ever: wrapping paper, gift boxes, and the like. Those materials may contain toxins such as heavy metals. When burned, they threaten both air quality and water quality. Yes—water quality. Here’s how that works, according to one source:

“While holiday gift wrap may not readily jump to mind as a water pollutant, it can create serious environmental impacts when burned. When wrapping paper is burned, soot and other harmful pollutants are emitted. These toxins collect in clouds, on roadways, and other surfaces. Rain then flushes them into waterways, causing stormwater pollution.”

So tune into that log tonight—you can even watch it in 3D.


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at

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