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Saturday's Spare The Air Day Will Make Ten So Far This Year

Air Quality District officials are banning the burning of wood on Saturday, blaming a continuing high-pressure system over the Bay Area.

For the tenth time in 32 days, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is issuing a Winter Spare the Air Alert for Saturday, February 2, which bans burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.

Another high-pressure system across the Bay Area is once again responsible for the ban. Pollution levels are expected to hit unhealthy levels this weekend, district officials say.

“Wood smoke is the ‘other second-hand smoke,’ with many of the same harmful qualities as cigarette smoke,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “In the Bay Area, it’s the single largest source of air pollution on still winter days.”

A district spokesman recently told Patch that the Bay Area has well over 1 million fireplaces, most of them constructed before anyone understood the dangers of wood smoke. Particulates from the smoke get trapped in the air during high-pressure systems and create health havoc for children, the elderly and anyone with pulmonary problems, the spokesman said.

It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, woodstoves, 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.

You can check with the air district before burning between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28 at the following locations: 

  • 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 AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org or phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515
  • Via the Spare the Air iPhone and Android Apps

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.

MIKE ALFORD February 03, 2013 at 03:14 AM
HOW DARE You Bill Wainwright Even Suggest that That we might be getting any pollition or Anything that would be harmful to our lungs from the SHELL REFINARY ! And even though They Were Blowing off Over Martinez, Concord And The Rest Of Contra Costa County ONLY 1,4 Million Metric Tons of pollitints How Or Why could anyone accuse Shell of any thing that would hurt your breathing or lung problems ! See Now Its All Your Faults That Burning in your fire places Is the Number reason that there are these breathing problems ! and The reason that I know All Of These STATS. Is Because MARK ROSS Thol Me That Its The Fire Places And All Of Us Burnning In Them !!! And You Know That Mark Ross Wouldnt LIE About That Because He Is On The AIR Quality Control Board ! So Now That Ive Cleared All Of That Up I think I Will put Another Railroad Tye On The Fireplace ! (NOW BILL YOU KNOW Im Just Giving You A Bad Time) Of Coarse Your Right You Have Been Yhe ONLY Cith Counselmen That Was Ever HONEST With The CITIZENS of MARTINEZ And Thats A FACT Folks ! Heres Somethinh To Put In Your Thinking CAP Last Week I Went And Took Pictures Of The Berrilessa Palms Progect Oh Yea I Took Three 5 Gallon Cans Over To A Lab And Just Watch What Im Going To Show And Tell to The Press People Next Week Just See What Is In The Dirt And The rest of the CRAP of Pure Pollients That R.C.D. Is Going To Build Our Special houseing on !! Oh Also Its All On Video ! I Wonder What Excause they will give The State & FEDS ?
MIKE ALFORD February 03, 2013 at 05:41 AM
I Need To Correct Something I just Said On My Last Statement about SHELL OIL Refinary ----- I Said 1.4 Million Metric Tons Of Pollitints I Made A Mistake ---- It Is 4.6 million Metric Tons ----- Sorry About That !!!!
Chris Nicholson February 03, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Yesterday was another false alarm. Recall that the EPA finds AQI >= 151 to be unhealthy, but our local Spare the Air folks claim 101 is unhealthy. Near here (Concord station) yesterday, the PM2.5 AQI (24 hour avg) was about 35 (note less than 101). Highest reading in Bay Area was 80 (note less than 101). But this was in GILROY. 70 miles away! Something fishy here. I would encourage our fearless Patch investigative team to kick more tires and ask more questions. An unbiased prediction model should overshoot as often as undershoot the actuals. Like flipping a coin. The STA track record of being wrong nine out of ten times is POSSIBLE with an unbiased model, but highly unlikely. It would be akin to flipping nine "tails" in ten tosses. You'd only expect this 2% of the time. In Vegas, they'd offer 50:1 odds on the bet that STA is giving us unbiased predictions.
Bill Wainwright February 03, 2013 at 05:23 PM
The only thing corrupted in you, Mike Alford, is your spelling! Can the same be said of our Air Resources Board members and elected officials who go along with the charade?
Eastofthehills February 04, 2013 at 04:38 PM
I have a gas (fake) fireplace in my house that I rarely use so the "spare the air" doesn't impact me. That being said I don't think the air district should get a carte blanche to issue spare the air alerts. I would say IF the district wants unlimited ability to issue alerts and feels it is important that we spare the air it should fund free/subsidized transit out of its budget on those days. Secondly if the district doesn't want to pay for transit or other reduction measures it should be limited to the number of alerts it can issue. (kind of like times outs in football I would propose two days per month and five roving days through out the calender year)

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