Spare the Air alert issued for Bay Area Wednesday


Bay Area residents are being encouraged to carpool, bike, walk or take public transportation to work Wednesday because of a Spare the Air alert, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced today.

Citing unhealthy air quality forecast for Wednesday, the district issued its 19th alert for the region this year.

Hot temperatures and light winds combined with motor vehicle exhaust from traffic is expected to create unhealthy ozone accumulation throughout the Bay Area, district officials said.

"Exhaust from the millions of cars on Bay Area roads will cause unhealthy air quality on Wednesday," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement. "Even a short heat wave reminds us that we need to make necessary changes to our commute to reduce pollution every day like carpooling, biking and walking."

Ozone, also known as smog, is linked to throat irritation, congestion and chest pain. It can also trigger asthma and inflammation in the linings of the lungs, as well as worsen bronchitis and emphysema, district officials said.

Long-term exposure to ozone pollution can cause reduced lung function. Young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions are most at risk, according to the district.

When Spare the Air alerts are in effect, residents are encouraged to perform outdoor exercises in the early morning hours when ozone concentrations are the lowest.

Additionally, residents are being discouraged from driving alone, not just on Spare the Air days, but every day in order to reduce unhealthy smog in the region, district officials said.

For a list of transportation programs available to commuters throughout the Bay Area, residents can visit

To find out when Spare the Air alerts have been issued, residents can visit, call 800-HELP-AIR, or download the Spare the Air mobile app on iTunes or Google Play.

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16 people like this
Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 7, 2016 at 11:14 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

Maybe we can ban leaf blowers on spare the air days and eliminate all that dust.

10 people like this
Posted by Jana Tuschman
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 11:52 am

I totally agree with Judith Wasserman regarding banning leaf blowers on spare the air days, and all days for that matter. Staring with Spare the Air days is a great idea - however, it seems like it would be difficult to enforce, as gardeners who use gas powered leaf blowers would most likely not be aware of temporary restrictions unless they knew to check the sites you mention at the end of the article. Kind of hard to imagine the practicality of this. Leaf blowers are horrible polluters and cause respiratory grief for many who are susceptible, such as the elderly, children and those with reduced lung function.

4 people like this
Posted by Jeanne DuPrau
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I very much agree with Judith Wasserman and Jana Tuschman! Leafblowers are a constant in my neighborhood, kicking up clouds of dust and making terrible noise. I know the city has tried and failed to ban these machines, but maybe more people who use gardening services could be persuaded, especially on spare-the-air days, to ask their gardeners to use a rake instead. I have. They don't seem to mind.

21 people like this
Posted by Literally Sick
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Literally Sick is a registered user.

I wish that people who have to commute more than ten miles would just stay home on Spare the Air days. Their is no reason many workers can't telecommute on these days.

I am tired of HAVING to stay indoors with my windows shut, air conditioner and filters on-- because my asthma has progressed to COPD, due to air pollution!

If we move far enough to get away from the smog, then WE become gross polluters, too. Not to mention losing a large chunk of profit from the sale of the house to the IRS and the state!

7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:50 pm

@Literally Sick - people who live close to work are the ones that can most easily take public transit or walk or bike to work on Spare The Air Days.

Aren't home prices in Palo Alto soaring because everyone wants to live close to work. Take advantage of that and don't drive to work.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:13 pm

It seems to me that I always see utility tree trimmers working on spare the air days, so good luck with that.

Good day for electric vehicles - drivers can drive as much as they like.

7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2016 at 8:43 am

Gas leaf blowers are actually banned by a 2005 city ordinance, but the police has refused to enforce the ban and made filing a complaint so convoluted, that it would be a waste of time. No politician or city manager ever read the riot act to the various police chiefs vis-a-vis their refusal to enforce the law. To me this is typical of city politicians and city managers who don't care about the quality of life of the residents. The fine itself, in the extremely unlikely event a gardener is ever ticketed, is way too low, so they are highly unperturbed by the ordinance.

Palo Alto should emulate the city of Santa Monica. Fines are heavier and are slapped on the property owners. Remarkably, they have no more gas leaf blower issues in Santa Monica.

13 people like this
Posted by Public Health
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 9, 2016 at 8:50 am

This is not only a public health issue, but a children's health issue.

When we lived in another district nearby, we were told that CA state law forbids that children participate in PE classes held outdoors on Spare the Air Days.

However, some of my neighbors have informed me that PAUSD has never complied with this law--even at the elementary school level!

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

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