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Officials declare Friday a 'Spare the Air' day

Original post made on Dec 27, 2013

Burning wood will be banned in the Bay Area on Friday, Dec. 27, for the fifth day in a row and the 20th day this season, Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials announced Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 26, 2013, 11:58 PM

Comments (34)

Posted by no rain no fire, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 27, 2013 at 12:43 am

Easy way to tell if a fire is safe - only light up when it is raining. Thank you.


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 27, 2013 at 3:38 am

Women may not drive in a house coat.

Burning wood will be banned in the Bay Area over the entire Christmas holiday week.

We have a lot of stupid laws here in the Bay Area. They are not enforced, and are laughable. We live 2 minutes from Highway 101. Do you really think that our fireplaces are causing more air pollution than the highway? Give me a break. I'll stop lighting my fire place when they shut down Highway 101 for Spare the Air days. All the asthma whiners that have been complaining about my fireplace. Really? Highway 101, our 7 X 24 smog machine is ok, but my fire is causing your pain. Get real.

We'll enjoy our fire again tonight. Go rail against the Highway when the smog is bugging you.



Posted by Bart, a resident of another community
on Dec 27, 2013 at 8:05 am

I live about 3 miles from the counties that have no burn days. It was so nice to have fires over the holidays. I made sure that the smoke did not go into those counties. Lol.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2013 at 8:30 am

I don't like the smell of smoke, it is as anti-social as smoking tobacco.

Apart from anything else, it has been so mild that we have been opening windows in the evening because we are too warm. Having a fire would make the house much too hot. Our tree and lights give plenty of ambiance, so I see absolutely no need to burn anything in a fireplace!


Posted by What smog, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 27, 2013 at 9:09 am

For the last several days, there has been very little traffic anywhere because so many residents are out of town. So what is causing enough pollution to cause a Spare the Air Day? I do not smell any woodsmoke, and my nose is like radar for smoke. Could the Spare the Air Day be a mistake? Or a phony?

I am asthmatic, I don't whine, but I am not wheezing, as I would usually be during a valid Spare the Air Day or in the presence of smoke of any kind.

What the heck is going on?

BTW, do not make fun of asthmatics. There is nothing funny about not being able to get air into your lungs because they are swollen and filled with mucus due to an allergen.


Posted by sike, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Dec 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

How about charcoal?


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

What Smog,

It's the atmospheric conditions we get in Winter. Basically, the air doesn't move and what smog there is settles in place. So, no wind, no air clearing.

So, there's still traffic, diesel fuels, some light manufacturing and between a quarter and a third coming over the ocean from China.


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Dear Resident,

This morning I scraped ice off of our cars so we could drive them. Same thing yesterday. So I've gotta ask about that mild weather that has you opening your windows in the evening. Are you even in this zip code or are you one of those long distance on-line lurkers? You see no reason to light a fire, since it's so hot outside? Well, assuming you live in this locale, it must be your imagination when you see or smell a fire, because who in their right mind would light a fire in this stifling heat? LOL.

When they close Highway 101 for Clear the Air, then I will stop making a fire nightly for the Christmas holidays. Until then, walk, bike, use public transportation on Clear the Air days, and help keep the air clear.


Posted by Pat, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm

My family has asthma and fireplace smoke is a trigger, as in they get near a fire, they go find an inhaler. It is an act of kindness to spare the air, not a stupid law. My husband has been hospitalized twice this year for asthma, it is life threatening. Really, have a heart.


Posted by volu, a resident of Southgate
on Dec 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm

burning fireplace is inconsiderate. no excuses about car pollution. wood smoke makes a bad situation even worse.agreed ,car pollution is the worst along with clothes dryers.dont use clothes dryers during spare the air either.the whole town smells like ''tide''.so poisonous. you know that generally fresh air during spare air nights? that's how clean the air was all the time during seventies and even eighties. you could jog ,bike or walk in fresh lush peninsula environment. but now tech industries have made sme4lls everywhere.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Stupid Law?

It is mild during the evening, I am not on about overnight lows. These past days have had afternoon temps around 60. We have had the oven on for a couple of hours plus other cooking, eating hearty holiday meals, drinking hot spiced cider, wearing warm holiday sweaters and are surrounded by candles and holiday lights. Of course it is warm in the house with everyone's body heat adding to the temperature. Yes, we have had to open our windows during the evening and wouldn't need an open fire for heat even though it gets quite cold in the overnight hours.


Posted by No Good, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Another related post has someone making fun of asthmatics. Asthma can be fatal. Asthmatics who have died of the disease were often found to have been strangled by their own swollen bronchial tubes or by spasms of the smooth muscle of the bronchi, or suffocated by extensive mucus plugs. There is no feeling like that of not being able to get air in OR out of your lungs.

That said, fireplaces are a lousy source of heat, most of the heat going up the chimney with the smoke. If you want a nice, romantic fire, do what we did and convert to a gas log. Clean, no smoke, no sparks, no chimney sweeps needed.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2013 at 8:44 am

Agree with converting to gas. We have gas logs in our original FP and couldn't be happier with the result. Instant results and no need to purchase and store firewood.

We also installed a direct vent FP (more efficient and energy wise) in our addition and it is also a marvelous heat (and ambiance) choice. Can just turn it on or even set it to a thermostat.


Posted by Facts on asthma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Just got back from taking my teenager to PAMF for asthma, doctor mentioned they are seeing cases of people wheezing who had no issues before. In our case, we live with it year around but it's really dangerous/scary in the winter.

Anyone who has never had to deal with asthma, you have no idea what the risks are. As responsible adults, we are supposed to follow medical advice when caring for dependents - be it younger or older. The City and health officials have a duty to advise of these serious hazards.

Medical advice we follow:
1) Avoiding triggers, Asthma triggers can be anything that irritates the system, a virus, a cold, allergies, certainly AIR POLLUTANTS.2) taking medicine - bronchodialator, 3) if you require more than the couple of puffs of the medicine every four hours, you are to seek IMMEDIATE medical attention, asthma can cause sudden DEATH. Basically your throat clenches and closes up. It's not anything you can help, it's like having a heart attack.

There is medicine that helps to control, and avert the impact of triggers, but god help you if you have ALL of the triggers hitting you at the same time - cold, allergies, air pollution. Yes it sucks.

WINTER is a time when all these can and DO hit at the same time.

Please get informed. It's the responsible thing to do. If anyone has been with a cancer patient or immuno supressed patient, you mind the germs. With people who have bronchial issues or asthma, you mind the air pollution.


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm

If you've got Asthma, any densely populated area is going to be tough for you. Particularly our area with Highway 101 running the length of the Peninsula and emitting tons of air pollution a year. This is not a good place for those with Asthma, and they have my sympathy. When Highway 101 is closed for Spare the Air Day, then come see me about not lighting up my fireplace on Christmas Day.


Posted by Facts on asthma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Stupid laws,

"This is not a good place for those with Asthma, and they have my sympathy."

Cities are not a good place for those who cannot uphold laws intended for dealing with issues that impact the well being of many people.

You would find more freedoms to burn in less dense areas, and you could also be free of 101.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Facts on asthma,

Touche.


Also, the country's not great for asthma either, which can be brought on by hay fever. The desert, maybe?

Seriously, I wish it would rain. My whole non-asthmatic family's having problems with the air this season.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Here is the Farmer's Almanac predictions for the near future: Web Link


Posted by More facts, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Someone in another post stated that asthma sufferers were a small minority to be ignored. Baloney! Dr. Joanne Blessing-Moore on Welch Rd, an asthma and allergy specialist, states that at any given time 25% of CHILDREN suffer from asthma.
that is a SIGNIFICANT minority of children.

We cannot all raise our kids in rural areas, it is impractical as there are few jobs in such areas. Besides, this is not the big city, this is the BURBS, although some developers are trying to change that.

Most of us who live in Palo Alto also work here or work nearby--commuting from the foothills, the coast, or the rural countryside just causes more pollution--the very thing we try to avoid. Many of us also live here due to the good schools and the chance to give our kids a leg-up in that department.

Also, smoke particles are much bigger than other pollution particles, and therefore cause a displacement of oxygen in the lungs as well as spasms and constrictions and thick mucus. It just isn't right to cause harm to people when every fourth house, statistically, has an asthma victim living in it. That is what you are doing when you light that fireplace, especially iduring a period of no rain to cleanse the air. No rain, no fire, period.

If you must have a real fire, convert your fireplace to a gas-burning one. The artificial log heats up and glows red like a real one, and you won't be sending anyone to the emergency room!

'Nuff said?


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm

When you stop driving those pesky cars that emit tons of particulates and pollution that hurt the asthmatics, then come by and talk to me about my fireplace. It's just asinine to complain about a non-related cause, while ignoring the elephant in your living room. We have lots of stupid laws on the books, in the cities and in small towns, like Burlingame, where women may not drive in house coats. Stupid laws is stupid does. Just ignore them.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Maybe it's not the laws that are stupid.
Check this out "Stupid Laws" ... Web Link

Fireplaces emit more pollution than cars.

Fireplace-hardwood (1,3): (36 lbs. or 16 kg burned over 3 hours.) 30 grams/hour
Fireplace-softwood (1,3): (31 lbs.or 14kg burned over 3 hours.) 59 grams/hour.
Auto-with Catalytic Converter (1,2) .66 grams/hour
Auto-without Catalytic Converter (1,2) 3.5 grams/hour.
Auto-smoking 6 grams/hour
Diesel 14 ton Truck or Bus >1994 (2) 36 grams/hour
Diesel Truck or Bus < 1993 (2) 70 grams/hour

Cars drive by and mix it up, whereas fireplaces, especially on spare the air days just keep smoke hanging in the local air making everyone miserable.

I really do not get the vitriol from some of the people with fireplaces. Just get your fireplace retrofitted with a gas burning setup and quit complaining ... do your part.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@Stupid Laws,

I'll be driving around your neighborhood looking for wood burners and turn in the addresses to baaqmd.gov site.


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 30, 2013 at 3:01 am

"I'll be DRIVING around your neighborhood looking ..." You gotta love these guys. LOL. CrescentParkAnon, speaking of stupid, how many cars driving on Highway 101 vs how many wood burning fireplaces. Go back to school and do the math. 100,000 cars are fine by you, but 100 fire places are killing you. You are killing me, ROFL. By the way, no restrictions on wood burning today or tomorrow, so its burn baby burn at my house. Save the gas, and misdirected anger, no need to look for woodburners, go protest and boycott the gas stations.

Roadway pollution is almost entirely from tailpipe emissions, and most of the health effects are from particulate material, that brown smoke most recognizably seen coming out of large truck exhaust pipes. It's nasty stuff (PDF), not only because the shape of the particles increases the risk of asthma and lung cancer but because they carry heavy metals, which can contribute to diminished brain formation in children. Gases, such as carbon monoxide, are less hazardous to the health of nearby residents.

These particulates, at least when they come from a freeway, are concentrated within 200 feet of the road, though they are measurable up to half a mile away during the day and 1.5 miles away during the early morning hours.


Posted by Facts on asthma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2013 at 8:54 am

Stupid laws,

"By the way, no restrictions on wood burning today or tomorrow, so its burn baby burn at my house."

Sounds like you may be upholding the law after all, otherwise you would would be burning on the days with restrictions.

It was kind of surprising to hear anyone suggest to break the law because it was stupid. Imagine if someone was on these threads suggesting to break any other law. If the law is stupid, why not take your data and arguments and change the law.

So far, your arguments are pretty weak. That other things cause more harm, cars, 101 - so does smoking.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2013 at 9:51 am

Driving is something people need to do, but no one "needs" to pollute their neighborhood air ... except "Stupid Laws". Might as well suggest they shutdown power plants and restaurants too "Stupid Laws" to rationalize your anti-social attitude. I'm glad you are not my neighbor and sorry for those who are, you must be a lot of fun to have as a neighbor.


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

Ahhh, the simpletons. Every single day every single one of us breaks a law. Some are so obscure that most of you haven't even heard of them. They are on the books to keep the weak in line. You can be speeding, not coming to a complete halt at a stop sign, wearing the wrong clothes at the wrong time, engaging in homosexual acts, carnal knowledge, they are all on the books. Housewives can not drive in house coats in Burlingame. How many other stupid laws are on the books, thousands. Including , no fireplaces may be lit on Christmas Day.

Here is the one that takes the cake.. The concerned pollution enforcer that is driving around polluting the neighborhood in search of someone that is enjoying a fire in the comfort of the their home with their family on Christmas Day. The modern day Gestapo is alive and well.

Breathe deep. I am burning that cord of wood today. Legally, as if I really care about unenforceable and stupid laws.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I really commiserate w/Stupid Laws's sentiments, but that doesn't change the dangers of wood burning in a highly populated area. Given how "stupid laws" have greatly reduced air pollution and the pollution of the bay, I appreciate them. Why not get a gas fireplace?


Posted by Stupid Laws, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Lets focus on the problem and its not our fireplaces, it your car, your office building and the airplanes flying in and out of our three airports.

Over 80% of the winter time PM2.5 is caused by sources other than wood fireplaces!

100 % of summer time PM 2.5 is caused by sources other than wood fireplaces!

This data is from the BAAQMD.

Many of us do not own homes in Palo Alto, we rent, so focusing on fireplaces to reduce air pollution or making uninformed suggestions to get a gas fireplace, are countered by us asking, why not buy an electric car and forgo flying out of town for the holidays?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Do you have an electric car, Stupid? Are you aware of how much better the air quality is now in this area, even though we have more people and more cars on the road, and more planes in the sky, compared to 40 years ago? In part it's due to the commitment of residents to have lower emission vehicles.

Uninformed idea? Please, get real. My suggestion was a great idea. How am I supposed to know that you're a renter? That doesn't mean you can't ask your landlord.

What makes you stupid, Stupid, is that your stubbornness about wood burning is ridiculous. You can have a perfectly lovely holiday without burning wood. The rest of us are, so deal with it.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Can't help remembering the old Farside cartoon with God cooking up the world and sprinkling in some jerks "just to make it interesting."


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm

> Lets focus on the problem and its not our fireplaces, it your car,
> your office building and the airplanes flying in and out of our three airports.

The "stupid world" according to "Stupid Laws" ... SL, did it ever occur to you that without cars and office buildings your fireplace would be pretty much useless because you could not be living here? The world grinds to a halt without trucks, cars and airplanes, and used properly they literally make the world possible. Not quite the same with fireplaces however much you want to fling your wet blanket around or blow smoke! Oh, but I do agree with you on one thing ... we do not need the Palo Alto airport for any of this, it could be ended without a problem.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2013 at 8:29 am

"The world grinds to a halt without trucks, cars and airplanes"

"we do not need the Palo Alto airport for any of this, it could be ended without a problem."

So we need airplanes, but we don't.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

> So we need airplanes, but we don't.

We need semi-trucks but not on the residential streets of Palo Alto, we need oil tankers, but not in the SF Bay, we need airplanes but not taking off and landing in Palo Alto. Is that so hard to understand?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2013 at 10:01 am

Not really, but that's ok.


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