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.

What Not to Burn This Holiday Season 24 December,2010Dan Brekke


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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