The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the season’s fourth Winter Spare the Air Alert for Wednesday.
Spare the Air days ban the burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.
“Wood smoke is expected to build up to unhealthy levels in the Bay Area this weekend due to weather conditions that trap smoke near the ground,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District, in a statement. “It’s essential that Bay Area residents refrain from burning wood during this alert so we all have cleaner air to breathe.”
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.
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 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:
• 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, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 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.