February 27, 2021



Spare the Air alert issued as wood smoke builds up in Bay Area

Officials are issuing the season’s second Spare the Air alert for Monday as smoke from increased wood burning is expected to cause unhealthy air across the Bay Area, the Air Quality Management District said.

Already on Sunday air quality across the Bay Area an the San Joaquin Valley was moderate, according to the district.

But smoke from increased wood burning is expected to make matters worse and cause bad air quality across the area as cold overnight temperatures and light winds set in across Northern California, essentially acting as a lid that traps smoke at ground level. And offshore winds may also push air pollution from the Central Valley to the Bay Area as well.

“During this holiday season, when respiratory health is a priority for us all, it is critical that everyone does their part to improve air quality and protect public health by not burning wood,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District.

Broadbent and other officials are warning residents not to burn wood, manufacture fire logs or any other solid fuel indoors or outdoors during the remainder of the Spare the Air alert.

In the Bay Area it’s illegal for residents and businesses to use fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves or outdoor fire pits during the alert to decrease the levels of fine particle pollution. Those homes without permanently installed heating are exempt from the order.

Much like cigarette smoke, wood smoke has carcinogens that are harmful when inhaled, especially for children and elderly. Air District officials say that cold temperatures and calm winds trap smoke from household wood burning around homes and increases fine particulate pollution inside and outside them.

Natural gas, propane and electric fireplaces are still allowed, officials added.