The Winter Spare
the Air season starts Friday, Nov. 1, making it illegal to burn wood,
manufactured firelogs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors, when
a Winter Spare the Air Alert is called.
Like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains many carcinogenic substances which make the air harmful to breathe. The fine particulate pollution in wood smoke is especially harmful for children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions, and is known to cause more than 90 percent of the premature deaths related to air pollution.
“The Winter Spare the Air program has successfully helped the public understand the hazards of wood smoke while helping us make significant progress toward cleaner air in our neighborhoods,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District.
“Wood smoke is the other second hand smoke so fewer unhealthy air days means healthier air quality for everyone living in the nine counties of the Bay Area.”
The Air District calls Winter Spare the Air Alerts when weather conditions trap pollution close to the ground and air quality is forecast to be unhealthy. The Winter Spare the Air season runs from Nov. 1, 2013, through Feb. 28, 2014.
Cold temperatures and calm winds during the winter season can cause wood smoke to build up in residential neighborhoods.
When air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, a Winter Spare the Air Alert will be called for the next full calendar day. During an alert, the use of wood-burning devices, including fireplaces, pellet stoves, wood stoves and outdoor fire pits is forbidden.
Bay Area residents can check before they burn by:
• Calling 1-877-4NO-BURN
• Visiting www.sparetheair.org or www.baaqmd.gov
• Signing up for automatic e-mail AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org
• Signing up for automatic phone alerts by calling 1-800-430-1515
• Downloading the Spare the Air iPhone and Android apps.
First-time violators of the Wood Burning Rule will be encouraged to take a Wood Smoke Awareness course to learn more about the health impacts from wood smoke and the weather conditions that lead to unhealthy air quality in the winter.
Those who choose not to take the course will receive a $100 ticket. Second violations are subject to a $500 ticket, with the ticket amount increasing for any subsequent violations.
There are also year-round prohibitions on excessive smoke and burning garbage and other harmful materials like junk mail, plastic, wood pallets and more in fireplaces and woodstoves.
Residents concerned about wood smoke pollution may call 1-877-4NO-BURN or visit www.baaqmd.gov to file a complaint or to get more information.
An exemption is available for residents and businesses that burn wood as their sole source of heat and have no other permanently installed heating source.
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