Be smart when burning this fall!

The recent windy, cool weather has caused quite a few people to get outside to burn unwanted leaves, brush, and wood. While we are all aware of the danger of burning in dry or windy weather, the Environmental Protection Agency has a few less-known tips so you can stay safe, be efficient, and earth-friendly!

First, burn only dry, seasoned wood. Properly seasoned wood burns hotter, producing more heat and less pollution. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when struck against another piece of wood.

Use a moisture meter. Wood burns best when the moisture content is 20%. If you are a regular to the wood-burning scene, you can purchase a wood moisture meter for less than $20 to test the moisture content of the wood before you burn it.

Burn hot fires. Once you’ve enjoyed the warmth, many people think they should let a fire smolder overnight, but reducing the air supply does little for heating and increases air pollution. A smoldering fire isn’t efficient.

Start fires with newspaper or dry kindling. This increases burning efficiency.

Regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliances to maintain proper airflow. For safety, put ashes in a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.

Never burn painted or treated wood, moldy or wet wood, household garbage, cardboard, or driftwood. They can release toxic chemicals into the air – and your home. During the holidays, remember not to burn Christmas trees or wrapping paper!

You can learn more on the EPA’s Burn Wise website: www.epa.gov/burnwise

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Posted under going green, health, pollution, safety, science, wildfires

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on October 22, 2012

Recycling Flashmob!

Awesome video! -ES

 

 

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Posted under going green, pollution, science, statistics

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 14, 2012

VIDEO: International Space Station captures Colorado wildfires

Check out this video from NASA. It shows the extent of the wildfires near Colorado Springs and the smoke plume that has made it over most of the Upper Midwest and Plains States.

You may have noticed a tinge of brown along the horizon due to the smoke from the fires. This will promote bad air quality for us tonight until the wind shifts. On the good side, it will make for a more brilliant sunset in a little over an hour from now. -ES

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Posted under drought, health, news, pollution, space, wildfires

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 28, 2012

Arizona wildfires causing our smoky skies

In this high definition photo from the National Weather Service’s MODIS satellite from 440 miles above the earth it’s easy to see where Arizona is on fire. You can also see a plume that is floating over the Texas panhandle. (The milky-white appearance on the map). The “Wallow Fire” is the second largest reported in Arizona’s history and is 0% contained. According to NBC affiliate KPNX-TV, 311,000 acres have been charred. More than 2,100 firefighters are using 141 engines, 46 water tankers, 8 bulldozers, and 20 helicopters to fight the fire.

According to the New Mexico Business Weekly, flights from Salt Lake City, Houston, Oakland, and Seattle were diverted away from Albuquerque International Airport because of dense smoke. The city of Albuquerque even canceled an outdoor concert due to an unhealthy level of smoke.

KVIA-TV is reporting that electric officials are warning that the fire is dangerously close to high-tension power lines. Should the lines be broken due to the fire, rolling blackouts will occur in the El Paso, Texas metropolitan area in the coming days. The lines in question carry 40% of the power into that city.

This is a big deal and it’s effects are being seen here in the Midwest too! This is another image from MODIS and we’ve highlighted the most recent plume of smoke to pour into our airspace. In fact, this plume may have been enough to limit our temperatures by a degree or two today (much like a light pair of sunglasses on the atmosphere). Even though there are health concerns in New Mexico, the smoke plume is dispersed somewhat once it gets into the Midwest. Still, this plume coupled with industrial pollutants makes for some unhealthy air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Click here to see what the air quality is for our area.

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Posted under health, news, pollution, wildfires

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 7, 2011

Loud noises caused massive bird deaths

t1largdeadbirdargfcThe mystery surrounding the deaths of 5,000 birds in Arkansas over the weekend is now over. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission performed necropsies on a few birds and found that they “hit something very hard or had hemorrhages.” Chemical and disease testing will take another week. Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud booms on New Year’s Eve which sent the roosting black birds into the air. Because the birds were likely too scared to fly high, they stayed close to the ground where they impacted buildings, trees, and mailboxes according to Karen Rowe, an ornithologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. She goes on to point out that red-winged black birds have poor eyesight at night and it is indeed possible to have a flock of 5,000 at a given time.

In the nearby Arkansas River, 80,000 to 100,000 fish were killed but the report states this was likely unrelated to the bird-kill.

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Posted under pollution, wildlife

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on January 3, 2011

Bad Air

74426_10150119227194167_639419166_7653839_7165431_nThe Wisconsin DNR has alerted the National Weather Service to particulate matter that may make the air unsafe in Southeastern Wisconsin, including Rock and Walworth Counties. An Air Quality Alert has been issued and will remain in place until this stagnant airmass disperses the particulate matter.

Do you think the burning of leaves should be outlawed? Obviously it is a threat to health.

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Posted under pollution

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on November 10, 2010

Air Quality Alert

pollutionAn Air Quality Alert has been issued for all of Southern Wisconsin and the Chicago Metropolitan area, including McHenry County through Thursday afternoon. For more information on who is affected and how you can help to reduce air pollution, check the website www.airnow.gov.

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Posted under pollution, weather

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on February 3, 2010