Today: 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 Dharma
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Its not only the smell of a fireplace we need to stop, how about all those annoying energy wasting holiday lights, not to mention the dreaded smell of noble fir branches as christmas trees are carried about the state. Or candle soot (eight days!). And don't get me started on cinnamon and hot chocolate, arrghh!

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Good post, Dharma!

Maybe they should regulate men who wear too much cologne or people who don't shower enough.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Ya'all, I agree w/the above posts in principle, but in actuality, smoke particulate matter is serious when there's no wind dispersing it - it's not about the scent at aqll. I was looking forward to celebrating the solstice w/my fire pit, but that's not to be. And I have some old cinnamon brooms to burn, which is a lovely odor! Instead, I'll be obeying the spare the air doctrine. What a bummer! I will be adding cinnamon to my hot chocolate, though - yeah, I'm a rebel that way.

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