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Record 26th 'Spare the Air' alert called for today

Breaks record for number of alerts called in a year

Regional air quality officials called this year's 26th smog

alert for Saturday, breaking a record for the number of alerts called in a year.

Representatives of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.said air quality is expected to be bad because of a combination of hot temperatures, light winds and high levels of vehicle exhaust from traffic.

"With a record-breaking number of Spare the Air alerts this year,

this is a wake-up call that we must reduce the number of cars on Bay Area roads," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said.

"Increased employment rates and traffic congestion underscore the need to find alternatives to driving alone."

On Spare the Air days, people are encouraged to carpool, bike,

walk or take public transportation instead of driving alone. There is no free transit available tomorrow and no wood-burning ban was called, according to the district.

The record for smog alerts was set in 1996, and since then the Bay Area has added a lot of jobs, a lot of new residents and a lot of single-occupancy cars on the roads, said district spokesman Ralph Borrmann.

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regularly

lowers the threshold for the amount of ozone, or smog, in the air that triggers a Spare the Air alert, so that as time goes on, more alerts will be called, Borrmann said.

Kiley Russell, Bay City News

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