'Spare the Air' days end for now, and that's news!

'Alert' season closes with record number of days agency has banned wood burning

A record number of alerts banning wood fires were issued this winter during the Spare the Air season that ended Feb. 29, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The district, which issues alerts when air pollution levels are expected to exceed safe limits, issued 15 alerts this winter. Officials

reported 10 days when pollution levels exceeded the national air quality and another nine days that came close.

The high level of alerts, the highest in five years, was due to a winter of unusually dry, stagnant weather, district officials said.

"It was a tough winter for air quality and public health, but things could have been much worse," said Jack Broadbent, the district's executive officer. "Wood burning overall is decreasing, but we still see unhealthy levels in certain neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area."

Wood smoke, the single largest source of winter air pollution in the Bay Area, contains particulates and carbon monoxide and is linked to

respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease.

Violators of the ban on wood burning receive a warning letter for the first offense and a $400 ticket for additional offenses. The district received 3,777 complaints about wood smoke from residents and issued 346 warning letters and 13 tickets.

The highest number of complaints were made in Marin, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, but the highest number of warning letters were issued in Sonoma County residents, where 108 people were observed to be in violation of the ban.

Air pollution from wood smoke is down 15% over the past five years, according to the district.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:29 am

This the first agency that needs to be gutted and retooled.
What a waste of our tax dollars!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Manners
a resident of Mission Park
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:53 am

That's why people are leaving California. Too much govt intrusion and not enough wood smoke. Those people with asthma, bronchitus and lung disease are bringing the rest of us down to their level with so much govt'l regulation. California is bad, really really bad.

Do the agency clones get car-use allowances?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by joanna
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 9:14 am

I agree with Cholo. BAAQMD permits big polluting industries, i.e. the Russell City Energy Center on the Hayward shoreline, which will be spewing out tons of particulate matter, then tells residents not to burn wood in their fireplaces in winter.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Melanie
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Mar 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

What was with the ban on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day all about??? Ebenezer Scrooge is obviously running that agency!

There is a laundry list of more appropriate businesses to penalize than sending out fines to families enjoying an evening around the fireplace.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

Most times the winds are blowing on the days they pre-announce as "Spare The Air" days, and the restrictions are unnecessary. This agency is a total waste of money, with over 20 "Directors" on the Air Quality Board.

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