A Winter Spare the Air alert announced for Tuesday is the Bay Area’s 11th of the season.
During such alerts, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District bans the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs and other solid fuels for 24 hours, both indoors and out.
A high pressure weather system is in place over the Bay Area, resulting in cold, calm weather, along with poor air quality this weekend, the district said. As air pollution accumulates in the region, air quality is forecast to be unhealthy for the second day in a row.
It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a winter Spare the Air alert. Homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt.
In the winter, wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area is the single largest source of air pollution, according to the district, contributing about one-third of the harmful fine particulate pollution in the air.
One fireplace burning can pollute an entire neighborhood. Exposure to wood smoke — like cigarette smoke — has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and even increased risk of heart attacks. Breathing fine particulate accounts for more than 90 percent of premature deaths related to air pollution.
First-time violators will be given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class, online or by mail, to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution in lieu of paying a $100 ticket. Second violations will result in a $500 ticket, and subsequent ticket amounts will be higher.
The public must check before it burns during the winter Spare the Air season, which runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. The daily burn status can be found on the air quality district’s websites —BAAQMD.gov, or SpareTheAir.org — or via the toll-free hotline 877-4-NO-BURN (complaints can also be filed via the hotline).
Residents may sign up for AirAlerts at SpareTheAir.org or by phone at 800-430-1515, or via the Spare the Air iOS and Android apps for smartphones and tablets.