Another Spare the Air alert issued this week

Friday, Jan. 25, will be ninth Spare the Air day of winter season

Yet another "Winter Spare the Air" alert has been issued for the Bay Area for Friday, Jan. 25, meaning residents won't be able to burn wood for 24 hours.

This is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's ninth such alert this season. The last "Spare the Air" day was Wednesday. District officials said a high-pressure weather system resulted in an unhealthy buildup of wood smoke and fine particle pollution.

"Smoke pollution was high in many neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area on Wednesday, making it difficult for people to breathe," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement.

He said similar conditions are expected Friday. Bay Area residents will not be allowed to use fireplaces, woodstoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices on Friday, he said. Those who violate the ban will be given the option of taking a wood-smoke awareness class for the first offense, but second violations will result in a $500 ticket.

Residents can call (877) 4-NO-BURN to learn whether an alert has been issued each day. Those interested can also sign up to receive alerts about "Spare the Air" days at

— Bay City News Service


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Posted by Christopher Parkinson
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

The air quality board is a sham. I have a study and paper I did on micro-particulates and asthma. It is diesel exhaust and the biggest polluters are buses, trucks, and trains. While I agree about curbing fire places, it has to come full circle otherwise this board is violating constitutional provision under the 14th amendment of equal protection under the law and does not allow specific carve outs.

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Posted by Chuck
a resident of Gemello
on Jan 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm

So how do we change this?

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Posted by Get real
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 26, 2013 at 5:55 am

I lived here in the 60's and 70's and saw the brown air block the view of the east bay hills mostly all summer. Then they started the air quality board and changes were made and restrictions set. Over about a decade the air quality was markedly better and is now much much cleaner. Call the board a sham if you want, but unless you can come up with another idea as to how a heavily polluted area suddenly cleaned up, you look silly.
Those who have been around can see the results with our own eyes. Oh, the sky is also blue too.

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Posted by CHW
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:54 am

I remember the bad old days prior to the estabishment of the air quality board. I cannot see the San Gabriel mountain from Disneyland until after the turn of the century because it was covered by the LA smog. If one does not believe the air quality board is working to clean the air we breathe, he needs only to visit Mexico City or Phoenix, Az to get a taste of what our air was like in the 1980s.

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Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:42 am

I agree with the first poster, the problem was with the cars and still is. But the air board wants to pull there muscle by restricting our personal freedom, which is the bottom line. All in all, this is just another useless gov agency receiving nice pay/pension/double dipping packages.

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Posted by Uh-huh
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm

kman, do you have a theory as to how the massive air quality improvement since the inception of the Air board happened? Some sort of wild naturally occurring air purification storm?
How did the air in this state get so clean since the 70s?

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Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Excuse me, but i still see a cloud over the bay area, just like in the 70, 80, .... For those who think it's better, your just fooling yourself.

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Posted by Uh-huh
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Oh I have zero doubt _you_ see a cloud kman.
When reality conflicts with ideology...reject reality.
The overwhelmingly large amount of scientific data proves the air is much better now than in the 70s and 80s, and no, I'm not going to post the links, it would be like trying to argue evolution to a creationist. If you won't see and accept the facts, there is no discussion.
Hope that cloud you see clears up one day for you.

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Posted by Kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 30, 2013 at 11:49 am

I agree the air is better, do to better exhaust systems on vehicles.
But if you ever go up to the top of the mountains, then you'll know what i'm talking about. I suggest you get out some, and see for yourself.

Either way, the smoke from home fires is very minute and for the agency to do burning bans is just another way for government to flex it's power on the people that need it the most.

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Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

kman, could you explain to me what you mean by "government [flexing its] power on the people that need it the most?" Keep in mind that states there are exemptions for "natural gas service unavailability", "electrical power unavailability", and "only source of space heat", so this shouldn't stop anyone from heating their home.

It may be frustrating that you can't sit around a roaring wood-burning fire every night, but their rationale makes sense to me. Your personal liberty shouldn't be at the expense of others' health, and air pollution is a serious health concern.

You say "the smoke from home fires is very minute". (By which I assume you mean a minute percentage, not that the particles are minute, because the latter meaning would contradict your argument.) They say "studies by the Air District indicated that wood smoke was responsible for an average of one-third of the [particulate matter] in the air basin during the winter months and almost 70 percent of the PM in Santa Rosa". Please explain to me how their studies are flawed or show me studies with contrary results.

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Posted by vfree
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm

How many of you turn in your neighbors for having a fire on a no burn day? I see the sad logic of it. You are those inadequate people who are so scared of life that you perfer to live under harsh authority, to be told what to do and what to think by a government that allow no dissent. You are fooling and dangerous.

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Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm

vfree, when you make such hyperbolic statements, you sound insane. Get a grip! Are you familiar with Godwin's Law? I didn't expect it to apply to a local newspaper discussion about air quality, but yet here we are with your reference to a "government that allow[s] no dissent".

If we had such a government, when someone turned you in for statements like that, you would be executed. But we live in a free country. Not only does the government respect your freedom of speech, the local newspaper lends you their press to speak loudly, even when you rudely call people who help enforce these laws "inadequate" and "scared of life". When people turn you in, it's for harming them, and instead of a firing squad you face (on first offense) your choice of a class or a fine that's about 0.1% of the town's median annual household income.

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Posted by Kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm

@ Scott, here is an exemption the rules does not cover. Some people burn wood because they can't afford the large pg&e bills that come in the winter. The gov. is flexing it's power by charging 500 dollars if they do.

Nothing like the smell of a nice fire in the fire place on a cold winter night. Cheers

Like this comment
Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Kman, maybe there's a reason there's no exemption for that. I just did the math and don't think wood fireplaces save money. As always, you're welcome to point out any errors in my reasoning.

PG&E charged $0.95413 per therm last month; with an older 80% efficient furnace, that comes out to $1.2 per therm. Looks like around here you pay $120 for a quarter cord of wood, which holds roughly 50 therm (20 million BTU per cord). With an older 15% efficient wood fireplace, that's $16 per therm. Heating your whole house with gas is cheaper than heating one room with an old wood fireplace! If you really want to save energy costs, use the furnace, get a free energy audit, turn down the thermostat when you're not home and while tucked into bed, and maybe close the dampers in empty rooms.

With a modern 80% efficient wood fireplace or a much cheaper source of firewood, you'd do better, but I still think it's cheaper to use a gas furnace or gas fireplace.

Like this comment
Posted by Kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm

@Scott. Yes, you're logic is wrong. There is plenty of free wood from sites where pg&E drop off wood that they cut down.

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