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Air District Cautions Against Burning Wood Thursday

Burning is not illegal today, but it is not recommended in this winter dry weather spell.

Contributed by Bay Area Air Quality Management District:

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is recommending that Bay Area residents not burn wood in their fireplaces or woodstoves on Thursday, Jan. 3, to prevent air quality from becoming unhealthy.

A Winter Spare the Air Alert is NOT in effect on Thursday and wood burning is not illegal, but strongly discouraged. Winter Spare the Air Alerts were issued on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Clear and dry weather is expected to continue throughout the week," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District. "We are asking the public to voluntarily refrain from burning on Thursday to help reduce pollution levels during this mid-winter dry period."

In the wintertime, when the weather remains cold and stagnant for several days, wood smoke can build up to unhealthy levels. When this weather pattern is in place and pollution levels are rising, the Air District will ask Bay Area residents to not burn wood. 

Recommended no-burn days help to keep pollution levels from building to unhealthy levels, and may help to avoid calling a Winter Spare the Air Alert later in the week.

It is important for Bay Area residents to continue to check each day before they burn 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 District Web sites: www.baaqmd.gov or www.sparetheair.org.
  • Via the toll-free hotline 1-877-4-NO-BURN (complaints can also be filed via the hotline).
  • By signing up for AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org or by signing up for phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515.

Wood smoke is the largest source of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area. It contains harmful pollutants such as soot and carbon monoxide, as well as toxins such as dioxin. In the winter, wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area contributes about one third of the harmful airborne soot pollution. Wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties for many individuals, especially children, seniors and those with heart or lung conditions.

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