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25 Spare the Air Alerts So Far This Season

Posted on January 02, 2014
by Wendy Stackhouse

Today marks the 25th Spare the Air Alert in the Bay Area for this winter season. The season runs from November through February. The last season that was this bad for air quality was 2006-07, when there were 30 Alerts. We have two months to go. Think we will beat it?

Spare the Air Alerts began in 1991, but there were almost no alerts between 1992 and 2005. There were only 4 Alerts during the 2010-11 season. This is a bad year. Wood smoke is dangerous.

According to, “From November 1 through the end of February, under the Air District’s wood-burning regulation, when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called, burning wood, firelogs, pellets, or any other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove, or other wood-burning device is illegal.”

Wood burning produces one-third of the particle pollution on a given winter night.

Where else do particles come from?

Sources of Bay Area Particles

Looks like we could choose to have a big impact on our environment, doesn’t it?

If this season continues on the way it has begun, 2013-14 will be a record-setting one, but not in a good way. Please do not ignore the Alerts. How to keep track? You can:

• Call the hotline at 1-877-4NO-BURN
• Check – The current status is in the upper left corner of their homepage
• Listen for Alerts on local media outlets
• Sign up for e-mail or phone alerts

Even on non-Alert days, you can help particulate levels in your area. Check before you burn, burn dry wood in short, hot fires, and keep your chimney clean and maintained. As tempting as it might be, don’t burn anything but wood in your fire. Wrapping paper is not appropriate fuel and is never allowed.

If each of us changed our habits and paid close attention to the state of our air quality every day, we could make those Alerts go away and be able to have a cozy fire in the fireplace more often instead of less.

We hope you had a very Happy New Year!

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