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In any case, most fireplaces are used far too infrequently to cause any real damage to the environment, said Stephen Sears, the vice president of marketing and member services for the Brick Industry Association, voicing an opinion shared by some. In the East, he wrote in an e-mail, air pollution is at its worst in the summer, and in the West the regulations are an overreaction: “Because it is not realistic to test each unique masonry fireplace in a laboratory” to evaluate its emissions, he noted, “it is easier for some municipalities to arbitrarily limit” the use of all wood-burning fireplaces.

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