[Editor's Note: The following was submitted by the Bay Area Quality Management District.]
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is issuing the season’s eighth Winter Spare the Air Alert for Wednesday, January 23, which bans burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.
The large high pressure system which dominated the weather last week is finally weakening and moving slowly east. However, particulate levels today have increased and are threatening to reach unhealthy levels tomorrow. Light rains expected tomorrow will not be accompanied by a low pressure system strong enough to reduce pollution levels.
“The region will again experience high particulate pollution levels,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District.
"Due to the Winter Spare the Air Alert calls, we have not yet exceeded the federal health standard, which is exactly what the alerts are designed to do."
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.
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.