Don’t Use Your Fireplaces Today

Here’s fair warning:  don’t use your fireplaces or wood stoves today!  Although it may be tempting to create some ambiance for Thanksgiving, we are also celebrating the very first Spare The Air Day for Winter 2009-2010.

The Coast and Central Bay, where Oakland’s located, is hitting 102 today. That level is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” and all active kids or adults with respiratory problems like asthma are advised to limit outdoor exertion.

At least our air quality improves quickly, and we’re in the clear from Friday through Sunday.  According to the Five-Day Forecast, we’re back to good quality again – so there’s no excuse to get out and move around after today’s gluttony.

In the meantime, have a mellow T-Bird Day.

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Winter Bad Air Settles Here

Yesterday was really hazy, and declared a non-breathable  Spare The Air Day in the Bay Area.  Today is another bad-air day, which means that it’s illegal to burn wood of any kind.

Based on the Bay Area’s air quality forecast, it looks like the seasonal bad-air will settle here for the next few days.  Notice the poor air quality in the Coast and Central Bay area, which includes Oakland and the Oakland  Hills.

Spare The Air Forecast

Yesterday was an official alert day.  The air quality was called “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” and all active kids or adults with respiratory problems like asthma were advised to limit outdoor exertion.

While haziness has cleared a bit today, more bad-air days are ahead.  The alert level is moderate this week, which means “unusually sensitive” people should watch out at this point.  It’s still illegal to burn wood now.

What’s with the wood?  Unbreathable days are caused by particulates, and wood-burning can contribute significant levels.  According to the Bay Area Air Quality folks, wood fires contribute up to one-third of all particulates on a winter’s night.

These pollution declarations are a new thing, based on new wood-smoke regulations passed last year.  The Bay Area Air Quality Management District began its alert program this winter season and, counting yesterday, there have been seven official alert-level days.

Anyway, don’t wait for the cops to follow your smoke trail – just keep your wood-burning fireplaces and stoves turned off this week.

First Time: No Home Fires Tonight

Keeping warm on this truly chilly evening?  Well, this better be due to your electricity or gas supplied heat only, because it’s now illegal to use your fireplace or wood-burning stove.  Welcome to the first Spare The Air Day, winter edition.

Today the air quality was reported as “102” for the Coast and Central Bay, which includes Oakland and the Oakland Hills.  This means it’s unhealthy for sensitive groups like active kids/adults and people with respiratory problems.

Air Quality Report

When the particulates get too high, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board declares a Spare The Air Day.  No wood, fake logs or pellets may be burned during the these bad days – which can occur from November through February.

This wood-smoke rule was passed last July, and I admit to ignoring the news back then:  “Regulation 6, Rule 3 makes it illegal to burn wood or fire logs in fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits, or any other wood-burning devices when the Air District issues a Winter Spare the Air Alert.”

Let this be fair warning, as you could become a scofflaw by tending the home fires.  Fines start at hundreds of dollars, so I have heard.  Yet enforcement can’t be a high priority for patrolling cops, so it’s not clear who will be driving around and sniffing chimneys.

Hey, I’m all for improving air quality and the Air District says that 2/3rd of the particulates come from this burning.  This seems like a form of pollution we can actively prevent!  Since we don’t live in Siberia, I have to believe that controlling or eliminating wood fires isn’t very tough for folks.

To stay tuned into the bad day alerts, you may check online, call 1-877-4NO-BURN, or sign up for your personal Air Alerts via email or cell.  Of course, local TV/Radio stations also report these declared days too.