News

'Spare the Air' streak ends after 11 straight days

Burning still discouraged on Tuesday, but not mandatory

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is asking the public to voluntarily forego burning wood or other solid fuels on Tuesday, but it's not mandatory.

The decision to strongly discourage but not ban wood burning was made based on improving levels of fine particulate matter in the Bay Area's air, district officials said.

Tuesday breaks an 11-day streak of Winter Spare the Air alerts that included a prohibition on using fireplaces and woodstoves in the region

over the last week and a half. The streak tied last year's record of 11 consecutive alerts in the Bay Area.

Air district spokesman Walter Wallace said that if a large number of Bay Area residents light fires on Tuesday, air pollution could quickly

build up and lead to another Winter Spare the Air alert on Wednesday.

"That's always a possibility," Wallace said. "With more burning, we can expect more particulate mass in the air."

Weather conditions have improved slightly, with light winds helping to reduce air pollution levels throughout the region, but district

officials expect those levels to climb again on Wednesday.

There are 1.4 million fireplaces in the Bay Area, making wood smoke the single largest source of air pollution in the winter time, air district officials said.

On Tuesday and Thursday of last week, air pollution levels in the Bay Area exceeded federal health standards.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

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Posted by Less Gasping for Air
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

While in one sense we have had polluted air in the Bay Area for 11 days, in reality many of us have had much cleaner air because of the burning ban. It has been a tremendous relief not to have to put up with wood-burning smoke during this time. I just with the Bay Area would put some common-sense restrictions on wood burning (i.e. no open wood burning, catalytic converters) in place that have helped some other cities significantly reduce their air pollution.


Like this comment
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:44 am

It is a conspiracy. they lowered the requirement levels last year so they could have more Spare the Air days this year.


Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 13, 2015 at 10:00 am

I remember reading in one of these PW threads about "Spare the Air" awhile back a post by a Pleasanton old-timer who said that in the '70's you couldn't see the hills around Pleasanton clearly because they were shrouded in smog due to all of their air pollution. That was the '70's! Lot less people living in Pleasanton, and a lot less traffic on the local streets and freeways, and they STILL had a worse air pollution problem than we have today. Something to think about. No, I don't like being told when I can't use my fireplace and, no, I don't like having to take my car in for a smog check every two years. But when I think of the alternative in terms of what our air would be like if these and other actions were not taken, I can live with the inconveniences.

The experience of the Great London Smog of 1952 should be required reading in schools:
Web Link (History Today website)


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The BAAQMD is an unelected bureaucracy they adopt the regulations, they change the regulations as they go along.

I went through the Environmental Protection Agency to purchase my highly efficient non polluting wood burning insert. My insert emits 1.26 grams an hour particulate matter. The EPA allowance is 7.0 grams an hour.

Two years after I purchased my insert, the BAAQMD adopted regulation six, which forbids all residential wood burning on spare the air days.

Wood fired ovens in restaurants are exempt on spare the air days, wood fired ovens emit particulate matter at a rate greater than 30 grams an hour. Homeless encampments are exempt on spare the air days. Anything and everything commercial is exempt.

The greatest pollution threat in the Bay Area is the petroleum fired vehicles, they emit 70% of the air pollution in the Bay Area. Industry emits another 25% of the air pollution in the Bay Area.

The BAAQMD violates Federal Law, same as California approved marijuana Laws is a violation of Federal Law. The BAAQMD is violating my constitutional right to own and use my wood burning insert.

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".


Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:37 pm

@Michael Austin: "I went through the Environmental Protection Agency to purchase my highly efficient non polluting wood burning insert. My insert emits 1.26 grams an hour particulate matter. The EPA allowance is 7.0 grams an hour. Two years after I purchased my insert, the BAAQMD adopted regulation six, which forbids all residential wood burning on spare the air days."

You make it sound like 1.26 grams an hour of particulate matter is insignificant, but in actuality it's equivalent to over 700 cigarettes all burning simultaneously. If you and all your neighbors all fire up your below-EPA wood burning inserts on a Spare the Air day, that's the equivalent of several thousand cigarettes all burning simultaneously in your neighborhood. You can bet that that will affect air quality in your neighborhood.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

@Damon:

Next to any wood fired oven in downtown Pleasanton that belches 30 plus grams an hour of particulate matter, my 1.26 grams an hour is insignificant.

When you drive your car to the local library, you emit more particulate matter than my insert emits on any given day.

It takes approximately two hours of burning high density hardwood to accumulate red hot coals in my insert which heats my home the entire evening. There is no continuous burning. The hot coals produce enough heat that my family room is a toasty 75 degrees, my living room is a comfortable 70 degrees, the hall way and bedrooms upstairs are a comfortable 65 degrees.

I save well over $1,000 dollars a year in heating cost. I have letters from PG&E informing me that my home is the most energy efficient home out of 500 similar homes in Pleasanton.

There isn't a single cigarette smoker in my neighborhood.


1 person likes this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 13, 2015 at 2:25 pm

@Mike Austin : "When you drive your car to the local library, you emit more particulate matter than my insert emits on any given day."

I think that you're mistaken. Modern cars with their advanced pollution control systems (even more advanced, I dare say, than your wood burning insert) produce much less than 0.01 grams of particulate matter per mile. I assure you that my house is not over 1000 miles to the downtown library.

You may be justifiably proud of the fact that your wood burning insert burns much cleaner than the standard fireplaces of your neighbors. I'll freely admit that your insert is much cleaner burning than my fireplace. But the bottom line is that your insert is only clean in a relative sense compared to some very unclean wood burners.


Like this comment
Posted by pleasanton was nice forty years ago
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 16, 2015 at 9:16 am

Not sure who Damon is talking to maybe he meant alzhiemers not old timers. but the air in the valley in the 1970's was clean and pure. I moved to pleasanton in 1967 from dublin. the skies were clear blue and beautifull. As kids we used to hike the ridge every weekend and the clear blue skies were awesome. I remember vivdly the change. The air quality in the valley started to change in the mid 1980's. About the same time as the development started. The problem with the air quality is directly related to the increase in population. Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 16, 2015 at 9:54 am

@"pleasanton was nice": "The problem with the air quality is directly related to the increase in population. Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

Yeah, because all the technological improvements in pollution control over the space of 30-40 years means absolutely nothing. Because a 2010 Chevy puts out just as much air pollution as a 1982 Chevy. Duhhhhhhh.


Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 16, 2015 at 11:06 am

I guess there is no lobby in Sacramento to advance the interests of all the firewood sellers, the fireplace manufacturers/sellers or chimney sweeps. Their rights are being trampled on.


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

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