Struggling with no burn days: Thick haze causes health concerns

- It's that time of the year when we start hearing about "no burn days." Some people think of it as an inconvenience because they're not supposed to have a wood fire, but for others, all of that smoke and haze can cause big health problems.

A view of the valley is breath-taking -- literally to Liz Bell-Zinn's 13-year-old son, Sam.

"My son, for instance, has asthma and when we walk outside the door, it's smoky out and he really has a hard time breathing," she said.

On a high pollution day like Maricopa County saw over the weekend, firewood burning across the valley is also trapped by a cool layer of air. When Sam can't breathe well because of it, this becomes his reality.

"Albuterol and when it gets really bad, he has to use a small volume nebulizer that's a breathing machine where it goes constantly."

Bell-Zinn says she understands people's passion for the crackle and pop of a real wood fire on a chilly Arizona evening, but she asks that people think of her son and others like him before they light a wood fire.

Maricopa County has an app that tells you whether it's a no burn day.  You can burn Dura Flame logs and gas fires.

The county will fine repeat offenders if they are caught burning wood on no burn days. Fines range from $50 to $250.

Bell-Zinn says she understands people's desire to be free and unregulated when it comes to wood fires, but her son's health is at stake.

"I mean, we have to regulate certain things. I man the air we share.. we all share it.. you can't make a bubble over your house and have your own thing.. this is all of ours, so we have to be kind to each other," she said.

Maricopa County's "Clean Air Make More" campaign
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