Air Quality agency bans use of wood burning fireplaces today

Those who choose to 'flout' wood burning ban could face hefty fines

Weather conditions forecast for today are expected to create unhealthy air quality and have prompted officials to declare the first winter Spare the Air Day of the season.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced Tuesday that air quality was expected to be unhealthy due to conditions that will trap smoke in the air close to the ground.

The alert bans the indoor and outdoor burning of wood, manufactured firelogs, or any other solid fuel.

During winter months, wood smoke is the leading cause of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area, air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement.

"Smoke from one person's fire pollutes the air around surrounding neighbors' homes," he said.

The air district is the regional agency chartered with protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.

Wood smoke contains harmful pollutants, such as soot and carbon monoxide, and toxins such as dioxin, which has been linked to increased cancer rates in adults.

About one-third of the harmful soot in the winter air can be attributed to wood smoke from the 1.4million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area, according to the district.

The pollutants can cause breathing difficulties, especially in children, seniors, and those with heart of lung conditions.

Residents must check the daily burn status -- which can be found online at -- before burning wood during the Winter Spare the Air season, which began Nov. 1 and runs through Feb. 28.

Those who choose to flout the wood burning ban could face hefty fines. First-time offenders will receive a warning, but a second violation is subject to a $400 ticket. Subsequent violations will result in steeper fines, although the district did not disclose specific numbers.

Residents and businesses that burn wood as their only source of heat are exempt from the ban.

Stagnant air conditions last week caused air officials to ask residents to voluntarily refrain from wood burning, which succeeded in preventing the need to declare a Spare the Air day then.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News.


Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Dec 1, 2010 at 8:38 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Whenever I see these 'warnings' it makes me want to build a fire even more. At the least, I'll be BBQ'ing tonight just to defy the air nazi's.
No doubt these are the same hypocrites who want to ban all second hand cigarette smoke, but somehow have no problem with pot smoke.

Cars create more pollution than any chimney smoke, yet the bureaucrats from the BAAQM district drive around all night looking for smoke. Classic......just remain complaint, all the rest of you sheeple.

Like this comment
Posted by BD
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

I was just impressed that they didn't have a "spare the air day" for Thanksgiving this year. I wonder what would happen if we all ignored them.

Like this comment
Posted by kickthebumout
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm

couldn't have said it better myself steveP

Like this comment
Posted by Nut Roast
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Too bad. I wanted to roast some left wing nuts over an open fire tonight.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:47 am

I wonder where their policing powers come from. Did the State legislature create a law that created an agency that suddenly had police powers? Do they call the police on you, or can they summarily levy fines without due process?

Like this comment
Posted by julie mellum
a resident of Parkside
on Dec 2, 2010 at 5:53 pm

To the neighbor in Parkside who refers to "air nazis" looking to squelch wood smoke,I ask:
Do you think it's okay for kids--and kids with asthma--to breathe wood smoke, when it is life threatening, just like tobacco smoke? Pot smoke is deadly too, but all these hazardous pollutants need attention for the sake of public health. Wood smoke is far more concentrated than tobacco smoke and is even more in-your-face. Wood smoke is implicated in genital defects in babies and even sudden infant death sydrome. Also asthma attacks and heart attacks. Are we okay with this?

Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm

"Wood smoke is implicated in genital defects in babies and even sudden infant death sydrome"

Could you please point me to that data? Thanks

Its a bit disconcerting since the beginning of human civilization we have been burning wood to stay warm and cook, but somehow in the last generation its a deadly toxin.

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

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