OAKLAND, Calif. - The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is issuing Spare the Air alerts that will last through Christmas Day, banning the burning of wood or other solid fuel because of excessive pollution in the region.
The alerts lasting through Sunday are the result of cool temperatures and light winds in the Bay Area that are trapping wood smoke at ground level, according to the air district.
Fine particulate pollution in the wood smoke can cause health impacts and is especially harmful for children, elderly people and those with respiratory conditions.
"Unfortunately, weather conditions are leading to significant smoke pollution buildup throughout the region that is expected to cause unhealthy air quality through the Christmas holiday," air district interim executive officer Sharon Landers said in the announcement about the alerts.
People in the nine-county Bay Area are not allowed to use fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or other wood-burning devices on a Spare the Air day, though exemptions are made for homes without permanently installed heating.
First-time violators are encouraged to take a wood smoke awareness course or will have to pay a $100 fine. Second violations will bring a $500 fine that will escalate with subsequent violations. People can call (877) 4NO-BURN or visit www.baaqmd.gov to file a wood smoke complaint or to get more information on the wood burning ban.