In Northern California, the Winter Spare-the-Air season is well under way. And in Southern California, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is keeping a close eye on the air quality outdoors. Do you know how to check your outdoor air quality and what to do when it is less than ideal?
No-Burn Days in Northern California
Before you light the fireplace or backyard firepit, always check the air quality in your area. It’s that simple. If you are in Northern California, go to Spare the Air. This helpful non-profit website not only tells you the air quality in real time, it provides a 2-day air quality forecast so you can plan ahead.
“When a Winter Spare the Air Alert is in effect, it is illegal to burn wood, manufactured fire logs, pellets, or any other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove or outdoor fire pit.”
If you get all of your heat from wood stoves, you are exempt from the no-burn rule, but otherwise, you should not bun on No-Burn Days.
No-Burn Days in Southern California
In SoCal, we rely on the South Coast Air Quality Management District to keep us informed about our local outdoor air quality. This government agency “is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, among the smoggiest regions of the U.S.”
The SCAQMD provides an air quality check tool where you can enter your zip code and find out the air quality in real time in your area. You can see in the photo above that as of 1:30pm, we had some moderate particle pollution in some areas, but most of the district was green today. We hope it stays that way! Yesterday we were fine in the morning, but a no-burn alert was issued at midday.
Of course, we know that the indoor air can be even more polluted than the outdoor air, and so we should think about improving that as well by:
Choosing green cleaning products
Running fan the fan over the stove when cooking
Purchasing low or no-VOC paints and varnishes for home decorating projects
Bringing plants indoors to absorb indoor pollutants like formaldehyde
Letting dry cleaning air out outside, not leaving it in plastic bags in the closet
Not using air fresheners that add scents to the indoor air
Washing hands with soap and water instead of hand sanitizer
With air pollution thought to influence health problems from allergies and asthma to heart disease and ADHD, it is never a bad time to check your outdoor air for particulate pollution and be thoughtful about the air you breathe indoors. Breathing is basic. The air deserves our attention.