Winter Spare the Air Alert Issued for Wednesday January 16, 2013

January 15, 2013 16:30 pm · 63 comments

A Winter Spare the Air Alert has been issued for Wednesday, January 16, 2013, in the Bay Area.

Wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors on January 16, 2013, for the full 24 hours.

Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy. It is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood or other solid fuels in fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire-pits, or other wood-burning devices. This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano Counties. (Visit to see if your city is located within the Air District.)

Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke. Smoke from wood-burning fires is linked to illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease, and is especially harmful for children and the elderly.

For more information about the Wood Burning Rule, or to check before you burn, visit or call 1-877-4NO-BURN.

You can also call 1-800-430-1515 and register to receive automatic phone calls when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called.

To see the current air quality forecast visit

Download our FREE Spare the Air iPhone/Android application for alert notifications, local air quality forecasts, podcasts and several tools to help reduce air pollution.

Thank you for doing your part to Spare the Air!

This AirAlert is provided by your Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Ricardo January 15, 2013 at 4:38 PM


Howard K Mullins III January 15, 2013 at 4:42 PM

I was just thinking this afternoon that it is time for the BBQ Nazi’s to strike again. Their first criteria is to announce a STAD is that the day has to be a holiday. Guess they are behind in their quota.

For people who cannot breath when the air is full of smoke, I agree that people should refrain from burning wood.

I just don’t like being told by a bunch of guys who no one can vote for that I have to do as they say, and pay fines they determine and enforce, with no real recourse.

That’s my complaint, Portnoy.

anon January 15, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Last year was the ninth hottest year for the globe since 1880, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) today (Jan. 15).

Of the nine hottest years on record, eight have come since the year 2000, with 2005 and 2010 sharing the dubious title of hottest year on record. The new data reveal the alarming, long-term trend of global warming caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, climate scientists said.

@anon 3 January 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM

“The new data reveal the alarming, long-term trend of global warming caused by human emissions”
Like my bumper sticker says, If you believe carbon dioxide should be controlled don’t exhale.

The Real McCoy January 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM

First thing the Nazis did was to ban wood fires. FACT.

jj January 15, 2013 at 5:22 PM

has anyone been caught yet ??

@Howard K Mullins III January 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

“I just don’t like being told by a bunch of guys who no one can vote for that I have to do as they say, blah, blah …”

That’s right, we should have elections for every government position involved in making policies that I might not like.

@anon January 15, 2013 at 5:51 PM
Howard K Mullins III January 15, 2013 at 6:12 PM

@@Howard K Mullins III

That’s right, we should have elections for every government position involved in making policies

That’s right. The BABBQ Nazi’s are not accountable to the public in any way. And that is simply wrong.

Concerned Citizen January 15, 2013 at 6:13 PM

One of my friends went for a walk on a spare the air day a few weeks ago. She noticed a lot of people had their fireplaces in use. She had a terrible asthma attack and had to spend the night in the hospital. She’d never had an asthma attack before. So follow the rules! Your actions affect other people.

ChampagneKitty January 15, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Good, my asthmatic lungs can get a reprieve from all the wood smoke that’s been in the air at night.

Change is Constant January 15, 2013 at 6:18 PM

# 3 –
The climate changes – get over it. Polar caps and equator were once reversed and will be again.

@The Real McCoy January 15, 2013 at 6:27 PM

“First thing the Nazis did was to ban wood fires. FACT.”

That’s funny.

Big Al January 15, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Did you see the photos of smog in china. It makes it’s way eastward over the pacific to our front yards. Burning more coal, no emmision controls on vehicles. Ever growing economy with no enviro controls. We are doing a great job here in the US of A compared to China,India,etc,etc. PS,throwin and extra log on tonight.

steve weir January 15, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Come on, you guys, “lighten” up. “Wood” you get so “burned” if this was not government?

Humor aside, I have two inserts, and a good stash of fire wood. I can live within the common parameters of society. This is not the wild west. This is not some adolescence challenge to your manhood. This is about our common air.

I don’t burn on no burn nights. Big deal.

ChampagneKitty January 15, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Big Al, yes I have seen those photos! The news article I read said the Chinese government only recently began to publish air pollution statistics. The automobile industry has exploded there, the number of cars on the road is rising rapidly and it is still commonplace for Chinese residents to heat their homes with coal. I also read that it isn’t unusual to see people moving around with medical/surgical masks on for protection.

guess who January 15, 2013 at 7:04 PM

If you have breathing problems dont’ live near a refinery,If airplanes bother you dont’ live near an airport.If you hate dump trucks dont’ buy a house near a Quarry.

@12 January 15, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Yea maybe your address will be the new North Pole. How cool would that be.

@Big Al January 15, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Lets send them CARB and Bay Area Air Quality Management District and ABAG in exchange for some of what we owe China.

@14 January 15, 2013 at 7:49 PM

That’s right jump off the bridge with China.

You know a fire will keep you warmer if you close your chimney flue.

Señor Smog January 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Great! I hadn’t finished up my spray painting projects from last week and I have been craving some home smoked salmon. Think I’ll do some tune up work on my chainsaw and leaf blower too. I’m also going to drive my hot rod to my mailbox since it’s good to occasionally crank the engine to keep everything lubricated – plus that thing could warm up the cold snap in a one mile radius all by itself. Just another Wednesday.

david January 15, 2013 at 8:15 PM

according to noaa the air quality tomorrow will be well within safe standards. no wear near the 50 ppb it takes for notice to people with respiratory problems. dont believe me? check it yourself

bigjim January 15, 2013 at 8:16 PM


LOL January 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM

Enjoying roaring fire at the moment. My son made it. Im teaching him right from wrong If someone wants to come take my gun and put my fire out best of luck.

The rule of law is only as good as we abide by it. If everyone ignores Jack Broadbent and the air nazis, it’s over. I know I’m doing my part. And so are my kids, despite what they try to teach them at “school”

Steve Weir Hater January 15, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Steve Weir,

Of course you take the side of the government. It’s your election department which put English speaking citizens on hold for an average of over an hour, while answering the Spanish help line within 30 seconds.

You are just trying to further the government tyranny.

Atticus Thraxx January 15, 2013 at 9:19 PM

“The rule of law is only as good as we abide by it.”

Duck January 15, 2013 at 9:30 PM

#5 You are wrong !
“You know, the first thing the Nazis did when they came to power was outlaw firearms,” or, “The first thing Hitler did in Germany was round up all the guns.”

Atticus Thraxx January 15, 2013 at 9:33 PM

“The rule of law is only as good as we abide by it.” Dude, tell ya what. Copy your quote and paste it somewhere and in five years read it again. If you don’t fell like an a$$hole, I’ll give you ten Claycord dollars.
Seriously, if you know or suspect burning wood is hurting your neighbors, why in the hell would you? To make a point? Seems like a dickish thing to do.

intrtiguing January 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

time for a warm fire and wine. kabobs on the grill.

Vindex January 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

How has this not been challenged in the courts? Where is the ACLU? What good are they if they do not stick up for people’s rights?

Antler January 15, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Hopefully, we are intelligent enough to accept that the regulations will at least delay the time when we might be having the respiratory and heart health problems the Chinese are having due to air pollution. Following is the report sent in my email from NASA today:

“Residents of Beijing and many other cities in China were warned to stay inside in mid-January 2013 as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history. The Chinese government ordered factories to scale back emissions, while hospitals saw spikes of more than 20 to 30 percent in patients complaining of respiratory issues, according to news reports. At the time that this Jan. 14 image was taken by satellite, ground-based sensors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported PM2.5 measurements of 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Fine, airborne particulate matter (PM) that is smaller than 2.5 microns (about one thirtieth the width of a human hair) is considered dangerous because it is small enough to enter the passages of the human lungs. Most PM2.5 aerosol particles come from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass (wood fires and agricultural burning).

The World Health Organization considers PM2.5 to be safe when it is below 25. Also at the time of the image, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing was 341. An AQI above 300 is considered hazardous to all humans, not just those with heart or lung ailments. AQI below 50 is considered good. On January 12, the peak of the current air crisis, AQI was 775 the U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor—off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scale—and PM2.5 was 886 micrograms per cubic meter. “

Big Al January 15, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Last year my neighbor snitched on me for burning wood. Now I have two pellet stoves,one in the living room,one in bedroom. No visible smoke. No splitting or hauling heavy wood. PG&E bill down 40%. WOW. My snivvling neighbor is freezing about now. Roasty&Toasty@Big Al’s tonight.

ChampagneKitty January 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM

And when you’re all done with your selfish behavior, Senor Smog, you can open your wallet and pay my emergency room bill!

Judge Roy Bean January 16, 2013 at 8:08 AM

I have 4 logs in my stove…front half of house is almost to 80 toasty.
Burn dry & hot = no smoke

charjean January 16, 2013 at 8:19 AM

Well there are people like my grandma who burns her fireplace cuz thats her ONLY source of heat . and on nites like the last few she has no choice .
What is she suppose to do freeze???

Interesting January 16, 2013 at 8:43 AM

lol… right

whatever floats your boat January 16, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Here is an interesting article. Fast food causes asthma, eczema, hay fever, etc. So all you folks out there that are complaining about us wood burning as a major cause, maybe you should take a look at what you eat. Eat more fruits and veggies and boost your immune system folks!

This study was done on kids, but we all know that adults eat poorly too!

Also, people need to stop buying those chemical logs that are supposed to clean their fireplace chimney. Also, those brand name chemical logs that people buy because they are easy to start. They are bad, bad, bad for you. Those chemicals get in your house, not just up the chimney.

Please only burn natural wood in your fireplaces. Yes, as you can tell, I have a wood burning stove and I use it to warm my home on cold days!

Boneguy1 January 16, 2013 at 8:56 AM

More Liberty gone. Let’s spare the air – ban the politicians from speaking. That will get rid of more Carbon than a nice cozy fire!

Ridiculous to have a bunch of non-elected individuals that commute to a nice taxpayer funded office passing polluting the air with this garbage, taking up space and wasting energy as well as our taxpayer money with rules that are based upon “official” government sponsored junk-science creating more unelected positions to waste more taxpayer money on more “absolutely necessary” programs needing more taxpayer funds, looking for the next weepy special interests that cry to more politicians that then decide on more fake crisis-es (spewing more Carbon Dioxide in the process) that needs more government bureaucratic control of our liberties requiring more funding of programs that require more unelected officials to devise more rules that need more funds…etc. …. well you get the plan.

Time for them to feel the heat.

Just burn baby burn!

PS – Just a thought – don’t have fire but crank up the heater doesn’t’ that pollute more? Time to pass a rule on that too?

Interesting January 16, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Sometimes you have to make do with other sources–if you don’t have central heating. 🙂

@charjen January 16, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Where does she live in the Ozarks? Don’t believe you. PGE will work with you on you bills. There are low cost loans to get a new heating system. If she doesn’t have it and you are not working to get it for her, shame on you.

Captain Bebops January 16, 2013 at 9:33 AM

For our Nobel Prize winning scientists here, research shows that the polar shift took place over a million years. IOW, if there were humans on earth at the time they wouldn’t have noticed the change.

@Change is Constant January 16, 2013 at 9:37 AM

“Polar caps and equator were once reversed and will be again.”

What BS! Where do you get this stuff?

Bobfished January 16, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Well over 2/3 of winter air pollution comes from sources other than wood fires. It comes from burning petroleum products. China’s problems are from burning petroleum. Wood is a renewable energy source and can be burned cleaned.
Most of the electricity in the US comes from burning coal. Natural gas may burn clean but mining for natural gas is anything but clean. It produces methane gas which leads to global warming. Google “fracking” to see how they get natural gas.
Burn wood.

DoReMi January 16, 2013 at 9:41 AM

The herd will be culled. Catastrophic or otherwise. Humans are no longer a valued comodity. In fact, the Baby Boomers have become a liability. One more alarming fact. Our politicians have cultivatated a new voting class. Think about it.

History repeats itself. Hello dark night.

Other than that, wood fires were banned in Colorado and they will be banned here too.

Let's Go Oakland January 16, 2013 at 9:45 AM

(sigh) they are NOT banning BBQs. If you are cooking something, a fire is allowed, though strongly discouraged. It says so on their website under the FAQs.

Digger (Not in Concord anymore) January 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Burning a big fire now, the rest of the day, and tonight.

Fact of the matter January 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM

The sad fact is some people have a sense of entitlement in this world so they won’t follow a simple request for a 24 hour period to help keep people with breathing difficulties /asthma safe. It requires too much effort to put on an extra layer of clothing.

Hopefully more people will follow the rules than not today.

Clint January 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM

I guess the county will pay for families funerals that have wood burning only heating in their houses.Thats good at least,and yes there are some.Weed out and destroy the wood burners,that is the only message I get from this.

Policy of Truth January 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Stunning posts here….are you people really that uneducated or are you simply trying to make a point through absurdity? Grow up. It’s time to mature past the selfish point of your ignorance.

Maybe you overlooked the obvious, but these little tirades come across as juvenile. Is that really how you wish to be perceived?

For your own sake if not for others; Do some homework before spouting off.

Let’s try this for starters- while it has been posted “I just dont like being told by a bunch of guys that no one cant vote for….”. You might want to discover that each and everyone of the Air Board members is an elected official. I.e. they are voted in and out of office by the people. Geeeeesh.

Please do your own homework so that others don’t have to do it for you.

Why go after the little people January 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Sure, spare the air day and commercial truck traffic, ports, heavy construction jobs and the airports have no restrictions. Go after the little guy burning a log. What a joke. BAAQMD is a waste of our money.

The Real McCoy January 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM

I like the stories about people who have little old grandmas who have nothing but a wood burning stove for heat who are going to freeze to death because of the pollution Nazis. You’re allowed to burn on a Spare the Air day if that’s your only source of heat, but that doesn’t fit with the BAAQMD = LITERALLY HITLER narrative so let’s ignore it and spout some BS story about Grandma instead.

Bobfished January 16, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Just ask yourself what it is that you give up on a Spare The Air days to help keep everyone’s air clean. If you are aganist wood burning you must be making sacrifices to help lower the other 2/3 of the pollution also. Just curious as to what you’re doing to help instead of complaining about wood.

Stupid Should Hurt January 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Policy of Truth @ 49, That was a stunning post.. are you really that uneducated or are you simply trying to make a point through absurdity? Grow up. It’s time to mature past the selfish point of your ignorance.

Maybe you overlooked the obvious, but your little tirade comes across as juvenile. Is that really how you wish to be perceived?

For your own sake if not for others; Do some homework before spouting off.

Let’s try this for starters- you posted that “… each and everyone (sic) of the Air Board members is an elected official. I.e. (sic) they are voted in and out of office by the people. Geeeeesh.”

Well genius, they are APPOINTED, not elected, to the BAAQMD board- which is the entire point of this thread. If their policies stink you can’t vote them out at the next election- because there isn’t an election for BAAQMD board members.

I suggest that you follow your own advice and, “Please do your own homework so that others don’t have to do it for you”.

@Stupid Should Hurt January 16, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Policy of Truth #49 was correct. Every member of the BAAQMD board of directors is an elected official. Board members from Contra Costa County include Supervisor John Gioia (chairman of the BAAQMD board), Supervisor Mary Piepho, and Martinez city councilmember Mark Ross. View the complete list here:

Policy of Truth January 16, 2013 at 12:55 PM

@ Stupid Should Hurt #53,

Thank you so much for proving my points….over and over!

By the way, I love your pseudonym. It fits you and you obviously wear it well.

Congratulations on your race to the bottom!

@Clint January 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM

If your home’s only source of heat is a woodburning stove or fireplace, you are exempt from the ban.

If the only message you get from this is “weed out and destroy the wood burners”, perhaps you should take a look at the Spare the Air website and educate yourself.

Stupid Should Hurt January 16, 2013 at 3:02 PM

@ 54 &
PoT @ 55

Perhaps you should both re-read my post. Nowhere does it say that the directors of BAAQMD aren’t elected, only that they are not elected to the BAAQMD board.

The point being that if we don’t like their policies we can’t “unelect” them from the board. Why? Because they are appointed to the board.

Clear now?

Stupid Should Hurt January 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

PoT @ 55,

“Thank you for proving my points…over and over!”

Since your only cogent point was that you are woefully ignorant of the facts at hand, I accept your thanks and give you a hearty, “You’re welcome!”

Bobfished January 16, 2013 at 3:16 PM

The BAAQMD stated that wood burning is down 15-20% this year. If we can believe the BAAQMD then wood fires only account for a very small portion of winter time pollution. These STA days are being caused by something else!!!

@bobfished January 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM

You asked what people do in addition to not lighting a fire on no-burn days. At my house we use a battery powered lawn mower instead of a gas powered mower. We bought it years ago when some agency was handing out big rebates for buying one. Works great. Saves money. I don’t have to have that smelly gas can in the garage. Pollutes less. It’s win/win.

Policy of Truth January 17, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Hey Stupid (Should Hurt) #58/59,

Speaking of re-reading posts, perhaps you need to re-read mine. I clearly stated that “each and every one of the Air Board members is an elected official”. That factual statement stands by itself. Obviously you don’t comprehend the obvious very well. I’ll bet you get that a lot.

How’s that ignorance thing working out for you? Blissful or just self-serving?

Your posting doesn’t deserve any retort further than that.

@#54, Thanks! You obviously understood that which elludes Mr. Stupid.

Stupid Should Hurt January 17, 2013 at 2:03 PM

PoT @ 62, “I clearly pointed out that “each and everyone of the Air Board members is an elected official.” ”

How sad is that, not your failed attempt at implying that the BAAQMD board members are elected to the board-they are appointed to the board, not elected to it- but your pathetically tepid attempts at insulting me.

How about you concentrate at curing your ignorance, I’d suggest starting with understanding how the BAAQMD board came about their posts, THEN get about learning proper insults.

Ignorant and pathetic, how sad is that?

ts January 17, 2013 at 4:40 PM

If you think this is so bad, you might want to google Bejing, China smog over the last few days, starting Jan 14 or so. It’s off the charts. You probably don’t want that here, and maybe its best to protect the air you’ve got, instead of trying to do a generation long clean up like they’re looking at! Face masks. Having to stay indoors. Not getting to drive you car except on scheduled days. And NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATH COMFORTABLY…headaches, etc. It’s a VERY serious and depressing situation there.

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