The season’s tenth winter Spare the Air alert was issued for Saturday.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District alert bans burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.
This winter Spare the Air alert was called due to a regional high-pressure system across the Bay Area this weekend. Still weather conditions have allowed air pollution levels to rise and are expected to reach unhealthy levels on Saturday in the region.
“Wood smoke is the ‘other secondhand smoke,’ with many of the same harmful qualities as cigarette smoke,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district.
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.
This winter, first-time violators are 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 public must check before they burn during the winter Spare the Air season, which runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. The daily burn status can be found:
• Via the toll-free hotline 1-877-4-NO-BURN (complaints can also be filed via the hotline)
• By signing up for AirAlerts at sparetheair.org or phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515
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.