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Lawmakers ask for fire-ring records

Preliminary results of AQMD study reportedly found rise in pollution near beaches with fire pits.

June 05, 2013|By Jill Cowan

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) sent air-quality regulators a letter Wednesday requesting public records related to an ongoing study that shows increases in pollution near beach fire rings.

The letter was also signed by state Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and Assemblymen Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills).

All four legislators have spoken against a ban on wood-burning beach fires up for consideration by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which would effectively snuff out what some have called an integral Southern California tradition in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

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Allen has also sponsored a non-binding resolution in support of the tradition, which is making its way through the Legislature.

Some of the biggest outcry over the possible ban has come from Allen's Huntington Beach constituents.

But some, including the city of Newport Beach and residents living near fire rings, have said that wood smoke poses a respiratory health risk.

Preliminary results of the AQMD study were released last month and found higher levels of certain types of particulate matter in the air near beaches with fire pits.

"We have been contacted by respected experts in scientific analysis and air pollution health effects research who question the conclusions of the [staff reports related to fire rings]," the letter says. "We believe that the qualifications of the authors of these reports, as well as the raw data, methodology and types of equipment used in preparing these reports, should be made available to the public for peer review and analysis."

Allowing review of that information, the letter says, "will help ensure a fair and transparent process."

AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood said Wednesday evening that he wasn't aware of the request, but that "we'll be very happy to share" the information the lawmakers asked for.

The letter asks that specific pieces of information be released. They include:

The names and qualifications of AQMD staff members or consultants who worked on the staff reports and the study.

All "memos, notes and any other information" used to prepare the staff reports.

A list of the equipment used in the study, as well as proper certifications for that equipment.

Any other relevant information.

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