Officials Say Spare The Yule Log, Spare The Air

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — The stockings may be hung by the mantle with care, but hold off on that blazing yule log — air quality officials are asking residents to voluntarily refrain from wood burning this weekend to prevent the need for a Spare the Air alert.

Although the weather forecast for the Bay Area this weekend isn’t calling for conditions that could trap smoke near the ground and result in unhealthy breathing conditions, the air district is making a pre-emptive strike in its request.

“This is the time of year 1/8when 3/8 many residents choose to burn wood in their fireplaces, but this creates unhealthy air both inside and outside the home,” Bay Area Air Quality Management District Executive Officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement.

“We are asking residents to give the gift of clean air to their families and cut back on wood burning.”

If air quality is predicted to be unhealthy over the weekend, the alert would be issued by 2 p.m. the day before the alert goes into effect, the district said.

When inhaled, wood smoke passes through the lungs and into the
blood stream. It can decrease lung function, irritate airways, aggravate asthma and chronic bronchitis, and increase the severity of other respiratory illnesses, according to one health official from Kaiser Permanente.

Wood smoke is the largest source of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area, according to the air district. It contains harmful pollutants, such as soot and carbon monoxide, and toxins such as dioxin, which has been linked to increased cancer rates in adults.

About one-third of the harmful soot in the winter air can be attributed to wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area, according to the district.

Residents must check the daily burn status — which can be found online at — before burning wood during the Winter Spare the Air season, which began Nov. 1 and runs through Feb. 28.

The air district is the regional agency chartered with protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.

(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report)

  • don't want my christmas ruined

    the BAAQMD can suck it. i have a fire once a year on christmas morning and i use duraflame! i don’t even use real fire wood. they ruined it last year and they sure as h*** are not going to ruin it this year. they are so damn stupid. nobody i know uses their fireplace except for once a year. if they want to have spare the air days, then do it on any day but christmas morning. it’s been raining for the past week and it’s supposed to rain tomorrow so why shouldn’t we have a fire in fireplace? a**holes.

  • Jeff

    Shut this rogue agency down, Now! I’ll be giving the gift of a warm hearth to my family and burning a massive yule log for Jack Broadbent!

  • tn

    What’s next? No egg nog allowed on Christmas day because of the high number of deaths related to alcohol poisoning and drunk driving? From “Spare the Air” to “Sink the Drink” day. Bah humbug.

  • Jeff

    This is BS, and we pay them to tell us what to do!

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