News

'Spare the Air' restrictions extended into Monday

 

The 10th winter Spare the Air alert this season has been issued for Monday by officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Wood burning continues to be banned indoors and outdoors while the alert is in effect, air district officials said.

The alert was issued due to poor air quality in the region from recent cold weather, according to air district officials.

Wood smoke is a major source of air pollution for the Bay Area, consisting of fine particles and carcinogenic substances that can be dangerous to inhale, air district officials said.

Wood smoke can be especially dangerous to children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions, they said.

"Although air quality is expected to improve mid-week, it is important that Bay Area residents not burn wood during this alert to protect public health," Jack Broadbent, air district executive officer, said in a statement.

"We are asking the public to consider the health of their family and neighbors in the new year by using cleaner, more efficient heating options for their homes," he said.

First-time violators of the restrictions are required to take a wood smoke awareness class in lieu of paying the normal $100 fine.

People who violate the ban a second time will be fined $500, and subsequent violations will result in higher fines.

Monday marks the fourth consecutive day such an alert has been issued.

The winter Spare the Air alert season began on Nov. 1 and continues through Feb. 28.

Those looking for more information on the air district's daily burn status may do so online at baaqmd.gov or sparetheair.org; by phone toll-free at (877) 4-NO-BURN; or through the Spare the Air iPhone and Android apps.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Local air pollution is visibly worsening. Please don't start fires unless it is raining. Thank you.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 5, 2015 at 12:55 pm

pogo is a registered user.

parent -

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but not the facts.

The attached document shows data from the BAAQMD and CARB demonstrating not just a reduction in pollutants but a DRAMATIC reduction in pollutants in the Bay Area over the past 40 years. For example, daily CO emissions (in tons/day) have fallen steadily - almost linearly, in fact - from 9,075 in 1975 to just 1,617 this year. And that's true for nearly every other measured pollutant. See table 4.3-5 at this link: Web Link

Our air has never been cleaner or clearer.

But what has changed is the new way our bureaucracy has decided to categorize our air quality. There are just six categories - the best days being rated "good" (0-50 ppm) and all five of the rest being unacceptable and requiring the imposition of restrictions. If the air is just 51 ppm, it's a "Spare the Air" day... regardless of the fact that it is clear, clean and even windy.

No one is FOR pollution, but this rating system is just another way to impose new regulations, fines and limitations on citizens by a small group of zealous citizens and bureaucrats with a very transparent agenda namely to stop burning wood.

Again, the data is absolutely unequivocal that our air has NEVER been cleaner or clearer. But don't let facts get in the way of your agenda.


1 person likes this
Posted by lmftfy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

"Local air pollution is visibly worsening" over that last couple days.

Pogo: you should notice that with your view from up there, looking across the Bay.


1 person likes this
Posted by lmftfy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:13 pm

"very transparent agenda namely to stop burning wood"

...in other words, folks, or those with kids, with asthma and other problems affecting that little thing called BREATHING.


1 person likes this
Posted by lmftfy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Web Link

familiesforcleanair (dot) org

Feel free to ignore the link, as it's just a bunch of hippy, commie whackos called FAMILIES, or in your parlance: "zealous citizens and bureaucrats"


2 people like this
Posted by worker
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:48 pm

I work on 5th floor of a building in Sunnyvale. Normally, I have no trouble looking out the window at the east bay and even all the way north to San Francisco. Today, the air is so dirty, I can barely see 1 mile straight ahead. I cannot even see the bay, even through it is only 2 miles away. The east bay hills have completely disappeared in the pollution. Yes, this is the air that all of us are breathing right now.

Maybe the air quality has improved on average over the past 40 years, but some days (and weeks) are still really terrible.


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Yes, some days you can't see across the bay. Sometimes I can't see down my block, but it's not necessarily pollution. But during the time I have lived here - several decades - the air is definitely clearer. And yes, I can see clear across the bay - right now, in fact.

These decisions should be on science and DATA. And both are as clear as the air.


1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2015 at 2:37 pm

@Pogo -- You mean "cherry-picked data supporting your view," right?


1 person likes this
Posted by lmftfy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

"but some days (and weeks) are still really terrible"

No - you don't get it. Pogo said "the data is absolutely unequivocal that our air has NEVER been cleaner or clearer"

Ever. Just think of those polluting Ohlone, and their dirty air.

Besides the silly hyperbole, Pogo hides behind the advances we've made in the last 40 years and decides that those who still suffer from pollution are somehow just a bunch of fakes, who are in it for the big money in fighting for clean air.

Those pesky kids with asthma, raking in the big bucks!!

Web Link

pollution-takes-heavy-toll-bay-area-children-asthma



1 person likes this
Posted by lmftfy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

btw, Pogo's OWN DATA shows particulate matter is up, directly conflicting with his statements:


Table 4.3-5 Trends in San Francisco Bay Area Air Basin Emissions
Emissions (tons/day, annual average)
Pollutant 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020
PM10 ......181 182 .195 194 ..189 218 . 210 220 .230 241
(ignore the dots, as I'm attempting to format in a more legible way.)

page 10 Web Link

That's sad.

From 181 to 210, then 220 to 241 (est) ...and somehow that equates to "that's true for nearly every other measured pollutant" except of course, the one that matters to asthmatics, and is created by the action discussed above: wood burning fires.

So let's go back to Parent: "Please don't start fires unless it is raining."

And ignore Pogo's "you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but not the facts" because in Pogo's world: 181 > 240.



1 person likes this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm

pogo is a registered user.

No cherry picking at all and I encourage anyone reading this to view the data.

TOTAL emissions in 1975 = 11,629 tons per day
TOTAL emissions in 2010 = 2,590 tons per day

That's a drop of a mere 78%.

As I said, the science and data confirm that our air is FAR clearer.

And as I said, that doesn't mean anyone is for pollution. We are for reasonable regulations based on DATA. And to say that we just want kids with asthma to suffer only shows the vapidity of your argument.

By the way, the view today was spectacular.


2 people like this
Posted by lmftfy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Particulate matter is the most objective measurement to those with breathing difficulties, and is what is spewed into the air from wood-burning fires.

Your own data shows a marked increase in particulate matter.

Vapid? "offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging". Okay.

Pogo: we are all thankful that your parents, children and/or grandchildren are not cursed with breathing disorders.


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 6, 2015 at 8:47 am

pogo is a registered user.

60% of our pollution is CO. That's the big one that is the concern. And, according to this report it emanates from "Automobile exhaust, residential wood burning in fireplaces and wood stoves." CO emissions have fallen by more than 82% during the past 35 years.

Particulates represent less than 10% of pollution. Yes, they are important and they are up - SLIGHTLY. In the 35 years between 1975 to 2010, particulate emissions increased by a whopping 39 tons per day. During that same period, CO emissions reduced by a just 7,458 tons per day.

The point was the erroneous statement that "Local air pollution is visibly worsening." It is not. In fact, our air has never been cleaner or clearer and the data is absolutely beyond dispute.


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 6, 2015 at 8:54 am

pogo is a registered user.

Oh, and those particulate emissions you are so concerned about - they are primarily pollutants such as "dust," "wildfires," "windblown dust from open lands," and "atmospheric chemical and photochemical reactions." Read the report.

No, not exactly the billowing smokestacks you'd like us to believe. If only we could stop that windblown dust from open lands and atmospheric chemical reactions, everything would be just fine.


6 people like this
Posted by dialogue of the deaf
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 7, 2015 at 9:17 am

Another dialogue of the deaf:

- one claims the other cited "billowing smokestacks" and other hyperbolic drivel, while the other clearly isn't referring to overall pollution

- air pollution is down, boys. Particulate matter is up. PM is a problem for asthmatics.

There. So knock it off; now go to your rooms and take a nap fellas - you're getting cranky.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 7, 2015 at 10:22 pm

pogo is a registered user.

dialog -

Welcome... but this is hardly the dialog you claim. The comment that was challenged by me was that "local air pollution is visibly worsening." (sic) See those quotation marks - they are there for a reason. That was the comment and it is scientifically false. WAY false, in fact. The air has never been cleaner or clearer... at least not during your lifetime.

I pointed out CO emissions first because that is the big one. It used to represent more than 90% of our pollution and still represents 60% of our pollution. And CO is bad, very bad. It's the principal determinant of air quality worldwide.

Yes, particulate matter is up... but barely. And it's actually not ALL particulates that are the problem but SMALL particulates in particular for people with breathing problems. The reason - they travel further in nature and further down the lungs - two bad things. And here's the source: Web Link

So here are our horrific numbers for small particulates (called PM 2.5) emissions since 1975. These are real numbers, not speculation.

1975 - 81
1980 - 79
1985 - 79
1990 - 83
1995 - 81
2000 - 84
2005 - 81
2010 - 83 (last year of data)

Hmmm, not exactly the "local air pollution is visibly worsening" that some are trying to sell.

The PM 2.5 number increased from 81 tons per day to 83 tons per day during that 35 year period - an increase of 2.5% during the time where California's population DOUBLED from 20 million to 40 million.

And small particulates come primarily from dust storms, cars and forest fires ... not burning wood in your fireplaces. That 2.5% increase is far more likely to be a few forest fires and dust storms than lots of people enjoying their fireplaces.

No, the air is not "visibly worsening" just because someone says it. In fact, the air is pretty damn near spectacular here.

While people can choose deafness over data, as John Adams said, "facts are stubborn things."


Like this comment
Posted by Arizona
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 8, 2015 at 8:51 am

Pima County? Is that for the description, or the measurements?


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 8, 2015 at 10:06 am

pogo is a registered user.

Here's the same information from the epa.gov website. It was down last night when I posted.

Web Link

By the way, at this very moment, the air quality reading in Redwood City is 52. Almost as good as it gets.


Like this comment
Posted by Arizona
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 8, 2015 at 11:09 am

Okay, thanks; so it was the description you were looking for, with the Pima County website, not data.

Looking at the PM2.5 data provided, I am with poster dialogue of the deaf; you justifiably claim improvements of overall air quality, while poster lmftfy is talking about particulate matter in the air that seems to cause breathing problems.

PM2.5 is flat - no improvement. PM10 is up. You're both correct. As to posters who claim something they "see", well, they might as well tell us how they "feel".


Like this comment
Posted by Secondhand smoke
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 8, 2015 at 4:45 pm

I am wondering what Pogo's thoughts on secondhand smoke from cigarettes are. I think we have an identical situation here - where do your rights for enjoyment end (nice toasty fire in the fireplace, comforting and nostalgic, always been culturally approved and accepted in the past) and someone else's rights for healthy lungs begin?
Science says wood smoke is bad for your lungs, and our society will go through the same "conversation" for fireplace smoke that we had about cigarette smoke. In other words, it will take a long time and a lot of people on both sides are going to suffer (in different ways) before we reach a new equilibrium.
Eventually... probably decades... wood burning fireplaces will be illegal in the Bay Area. Think about it... the only time you really want a fire in the Bay Area is the only time you really shouldn't burn one: when it is cold outside, thus causing inversion which traps the air in the Bay. (The exception being when it is raining).


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 9, 2015 at 4:50 am

pogo is a registered user.

My posts have been singularly focused on the false assertions that our air is getting worse ("visibility worsening"). It is not. And no one has yet to post a SINGLE data point to substantiate it. Not one.

And they cannot because IT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. Our air is not only better - cleaner, clearer, less pollutants - it is far better and the data are undeniable.

To answer your question about "Spare the Air" days, I think they do very little except make you feel good. While PM 2.5 is the principal issue for those with breathing problems, it is less than 10% of total pollutants (by the way PM 10 data INCLUDE PM 2.5 data). Just because you're not focused on the other 90% doesn't mean they aren't impacting your health - they are.

Ironically, wood buring in fireplaces is such a SMALL part of PM 2.5 sources that it is often not even mentioned in the literature (it is number 5 or 6 on the list from PM 2.5 sources, well after tailpipe emissions, road dust and forest fires). Obsessing about wood burning fireplaces is like obsessing about the price of a doormat for a $5 million home. Focus on the big things that truly matter and impact health - like CO, for instance.

And since you brought up "second hand smoke" (YOU brought it up, not me), I agree that your right to enjoyment ends at the tip of my nose. But like most accommodations, it is not an absolute standard, it is a reasonableness standard. So while we don't want someone blowing cigarette smoke in our faces, our reasonable accommodation is having people smoke outside or within their own homes.

We are neither immune nor Constitutionally protected from sensory insults be they the occasional wisp of second hand smoke on the street, sensing a neighbor's occasional wood burning fire, a senior citizen driving with his turn signal perpetually on, on or a strong dose of Drakkar Noir from the guy in the elevator.

We don't live in a bubble and we should be reasonable, not absolute.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2015 at 9:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The faulty ideologically basis of the Bay Area wood burning restrictions is exemplified by the fact that these regulations prevent the operation of EPA certified outdoor wood boilers which have been designed and certified to operate at very low emission levels. The "all wood burning is bad" attitude fails to recognize that advanced combustion and computer control technology can dramatically reduce the emissions from wood as a fuel.


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

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