FAIRFIELD — For the fifth straight day, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District called a wintertime Spare the Air Alert for Friday.
The alert bans the burning of wood, manufactured logs or any other solid fuel indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.
“We want to thank the public for their cooperation in not burning wood after many Winter Spare the Air days,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District, in a press release, Thursday. “We continue to see stagnant, pollution-trapping weather conditions and unhealthy levels of air pollution in the region, prompting another Winter Spare the Air Alert.”
The record weather this December – both in temperature and lack of precipitation – is entirely to blame for poor air quality, said meteorologist Mike Pechner of Global West Meteorology.
“Because of the lack of rain, we’ve had the most Spare the Air days with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District ever for the month of December,” Pechner said. “That’s simply the result of not having a strong cold front or light winds to blow the pollutants out.”
With no weather coming through the area the polluted air remains in place.
“When a weather front goes through, it lifts up the air,” Pechner said.
That’s all it is, he added.
“It has nothing to do with global warming, climate change or pollution from cars,” Pechner said. “We’re not just getting rid of it.”
According to the air quality district, 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.
Wood smoke is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area in the winter and is especially harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions, according to the air quality district.
First-time violators have the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class online or by mail, 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 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 websites: www.baaqmd.gov or www.sparetheair.org
• Via the toll-free hotline, 877-4-NO-BURN (complaints can also be filed through the hotline)
• By signing up for Air Alerts at www.sparetheair.org or phone alerts at 800-430-1515
• Via the Spare the Air iPhone and Android apps
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.