News

Air quality district orders 22nd wood burning ban of season for today

'Even little wood smoke in air will cause air pollution,' official says

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the 22nd Winter Spare the Air Alert for today.

The alert puts into effect a ban on burning wood, manufactured fire logs and other solid fuels for 24 hours. The ban applies to burning indoors and outdoors.

Weather conditions have prompted the ban as light winds and other conditions are trapping particulate matter in the area.

"Even with warmer temperatures, particulate matter is still building up throughout the Bay Area," said the air district's executive

director Jack Broadbent in a statement. "Even a little wood smoke in the air will cause air pollution to continue building and remain unhealthy."

One active fireplace can pollute an entire neighborhood, district officials said. Scientists have linked wood smoke to an increased heart

attack risk.

Using fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or other devices that burn wood are illegal for residents and business owners,

according to district officials. The prohibition is meant to protect the air quality and prevent the further buildup of pollution.

The particulate matter in wood smoke or soot makes breathing inside and outside difficult and is especially harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory illnesses.

First-time violators must either take a wood smoke awareness class or pay of fine of $100. Second violations result in a $500 ticket and tickets for subsequent violations will be more.

People who have homes where the only source of heat is wood are exempt from the ban.

The air district requires the public to check whether a Spare the Air Alert has been issued before burning during the Winter Spare the Air Season, which is Nov. 1 to Feb. 28.

Residents and visitors can check at www.baaqmd.gov or www.sparetheair.org, via 1-877-4-NO-BURN, by signing up for AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org or phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515. The public can also check using Spare the Air apps for iPhone and Android cellphones.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service

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