News

New year, old rule: Spare the Air

The new year is starting in the Bay Area the same way the old year ended -- with a Winter Spare the Air alert banning wood burning throughout the region.

A persistent dry, cold-weather pattern has resulted in a buildup of pollution and has prompted the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to issue the alert for Wednesday.

It is the 24th alert the air district has issued since the Winter Spare the Air season started Nov. 1. Today, New Year's Eve, is also a Spare the Air day.

During a Winter Spare the Air day, wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors except for homes that depend on it as the lone source of heat.

Air district officials say New Year's Eve firework shows, such as the one along The Embarcadero in San Francisco tonight, are not subject to the ban.

The recent flurry of Winter Spare the Air has been due to persistent high-pressure cold weather systems that trap unhealthy particulate

matter close to the ground, according to the air district.

Wood burning is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area during the winter and is particularly harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions, district officials said.

Those found to be violating the wood-burning ban will have to pay a $100 fine or take a wood-smoke awareness class. Subsequent violations are subject to tickets of $500 and higher.

The daily burn status can be found on the air district's website at sparetheair.org, by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN, or by downloading Spare the Air iPhone or Android smartphone apps.

Comments

Posted by breathing, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm

We went hiking up to Skyline yesterday. Looking back down, we could not believe how dirty brown the air was over Silicon Valley. Please don't light any fires until the rain starts again. We all have to breath that air. Thank you.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm


If you care about clean air, ignore spare the air, but help clean the air every day.

Spare the Air is a bureaucratic attempt to manage the peaks, but not actually increase the average cleanliness of the air we breathe.

Why? There is a federal rule that requires us to strengthen air quality rules if we have too many bad air days. Peak reduction programs, like Spare the air, attempt to keep us nominally in compliance, so that we don't have to strengthen our air quality overall.

I can't really get behind that goal.


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