Wednesday another 'Spare the Air' day

Wood-burning ban in place as district warns of unhealthy air quality

Yule logs may have to go unburned this holiday weekend if cold, still weather conditions persist across the Bay Area. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert for Wednesday (Dec. 21) -- its eighth of the winter season -- and is predicting more could be issued later this week.

Weather conditions forecast for Wednesday are expected to create unhealthy air quality, prompting the all-day ban on burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors. That weather is expected to continue throughout the weekend.

"The current weather pattern that is trapping air pollution close to the ground will stay in place and keep pollution levels high likely into the holiday weekend," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said.

The ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano counties, district officials said. During winter months, wood smoke is the leading cause of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area, according to district officials.

Wood smoke contains harmful pollutants, such as soot and carbon monoxide, and toxins such as dioxin, which has been linked to increased cancer rates in adults. About one-third of the harmful soot in the winter air can be attributed to wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area, according to the district.

More information about the ban and on whether it is in effect can be found at or by calling 877-4NO-BURN (466-2876). Those wishing to receive automatic phone calls when a Winter Spare the Air alert is issued can register for the alerts by calling 800-430-1515.

— Bay City News Service

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Like this comment
Posted by breather
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Don't pollute. Save a life today.

Like this comment
Posted by Rich
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:26 am

Are comparable restrictions in place for commercial vehicles? I support the idea of reducing pollution through things like "Spare the Air" days, but my mother always complains that (in her view) it's not fair to stop people from using their fireplaces when (so she believes) trucks are dumping so much more nasty stuff into the air. Does she have a point? Or is there info available that would refute her argument?

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

Looks really clear today, I think when it is overcast all day it makes sense, but today it is clear as a bell. How about using more "recommended" days like last week, rather than mandatory!

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

Rich, from what I understand, fire burning at home often increases poor air quality at this time if year, so when they have spare the air days, it's easier to eliminate fire burning pollutants than trying to restrict commercial and other polluting vehicles. IIRC, the particulate matter from fire burning is quite high as well, which is also why they ask people not to burn at home.

Like this comment
Posted by CuriousCat
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Why are these always on Wednesdays? Is it just routine to have on a week or is Wednesday a particularly bad day for pollution due to traffic patterns, etc?

Like this comment
Posted by breather
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The air is NOT "clear as a bell". If you look eastward across the bay, can you see the other side clearly? During the winter, we should be able to see the East Bay very clearly. Today, the air is so hazy you can barely see anything.

Like this comment
Posted by t much
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

too much burning its all over the thick air. thats sick.

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

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