Winter Spare the Air season starts Tuesday

Wood burning a major source of air pollution during winter months, officials say

Come Tuesday, you'll have to think twice before burning logs in your fireplace or any other solid fuel because Nov. 1 marks the start of the winter Spare the Air season.

Unlike the summer season, which calls for Bay Area residents and businesses to reduce vehicle emissions to protect air quality, during the winter, wood burning is the most harmful air pollution.

"Wood burning is a major source of soot, the most harmful air pollution in the Bay Area in terms of its impact on public health," Bay Area Air Quality Management District Executive Officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement Thursday (Oct. 27).

Winter weather conditions can cause soot to build up and reach unhealthy levels, according to the air district. During a Spare the Air day, the use of fireplaces, pellet stoves, wood stoves and outdoor fire pits, among other wood-burning devices, is forbidden.

"It is vitally important for Bay Area residents to check before they burn this winter and to reconsider the way they heat their homes," Broadbent said.

When the air district issues a Spare the Air alert, those who burn wood, manufactured firelogs or any other solid fuel -- indoors or outdoors -- could be subject to a warning for a first offense or a $400 ticket for a second offense, air officials said. Fines increase for subsequent violations.

Residents and businesses that burn wood as their sole source of heat may be exempt if they have no other permanently installed heating source, officials said.

"When you burn wood, not only are you exposing yourself to this hazardous pollutant, but you're exposing your whole neighborhood," American Lung Association of California President Jane Warner said in a statement.

Bay Area residents can check before burning by calling (877) 4NO-BURN (466-2876) or visiting

— Bay City News Service

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Like this comment
Posted by just say no
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 30, 2011 at 9:44 am

Air pollution causes many different health problems for your neighbors, especially children and the elderly. Please don't pollute.

Like this comment
Posted by someone
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Yes, don't pollute. I suggest that we should also ban BBQ's on summer spare the air days, and gas powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers and cars in spare the air days year round. At least, things would be fair this way.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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