The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is issuing the season’s second Winter Spare the Air Alert for Wednesday, Jan. 2, which bans burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours. The first Winter Spare the Air Alert of the season was Tuesday, Jan. 1.
“Weather conditions are expected to trap wood smoke near the ground, creating unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “Wood smoke, like cigarette smoke, is unhealthy for everyone so it is important that Bay Area residents not burn wood during a Winter Spare the Air Alert.”
It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, woodstoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits, or any other wood-burning devices during a Winter Spare the Air Alert. Homes without permanently installed heating, where woodstoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt.
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.
Starting this winter, first-time violators will be given the option to take a wood smoke awareness class, online or by mail, to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution in lieu of paying a penalty. Second violations will result in a $500 ticket and subsequent ticket amounts will be higher.
The Winter Spare the Air season runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. There are several ways that people can check to see if it’s okay to burn wood during the season. 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 Air Alerts at www.sparetheair.org or by signing up for phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515.
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. For more information about Spare the Air, visit www.sparetheair.org.
— The Bay Area Air Quality Management District contributed to this report