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Spare the Air Alert for Tuesday

From the Bay Area Air Quality Management District:

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is issuing the season’s seventh Winter Spare the Air Alert for Tuesday, December 10, which bans the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.

A prolonged spell of cold, stagnant weather has lingered in the Bay Area, causing a third straight Winter Spare the Air Alert to be called.  Air pollution concentrations are once again expected to be unhealthy on Tuesday.

“Wood smoke is expected to build up again in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area due to a weather system that is trapping pollution close to the ground this week,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District.

“Wood smoke is as hazardous to public health as cigarette smoke and is a serious problem in our communities in the wintertime.”

It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Winter Spare the Air Alert. Homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt.

Like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains fine particles and carcinogenic substances that make the air harmful to breathe.  Wood smoke is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area in the wintertime and is especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions.

First-time violators will be given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class, online or by mail, to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution in lieu of paying a $100 ticket. Second violations will result in a $500 ticket, and subsequent ticket amounts will be higher.

The public must check before they burn during the Winter Spare the Air season, which runs from November 1 through February 28. The daily burn status can be found: 

  • On the Air District Web sites: www.baaqmd.gov or www.sparetheair.org
  • Via the toll-free hotline 1-877-4-NO-BURN (complaints can also be filed via the hotline)
  • By signing up for AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org or phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515
  • Via the Spare the Air iPhone and Android Apps

In the winter, wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area is the single largest source of air pollution, contributing about one-third of the harmful fine particulate pollution in the air. Exposure to wood smoke—like cigarette smoke—has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and even increased risk of heart attacks. Breathing fine particles accounts for more than 90 percent of premature deaths related to air pollution.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.

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