The first Spare the Air alert of season is here

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The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the first winter Spare the Air alert of the season beginning Friday, banning the burning of wood or other solid fuel in the region.

The air district is issuing the alert through Sunday because of a forecast for low overnight temperatures and light winds that is expected to combine with wood smoke to cause unhealthy air quality around the Bay Area.

A high pressure system over the region, combined with the low temperatures, will act like a lid, trapping smoke near ground level, while offshore winds may also bring more pollution from the Central Valley into the Bay Area, according to the air district.

On winter Spare the Air days, Bay Area residents and businesses are not allowed to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices.

There are exemptions for homes without permanently installed heating and wood stoves or where fireplaces are the only source of heat.

First-time violators can take a wood smoke awareness course or pay a $100 fine, while subsequent violations are subject to higher fine amounts.

The air district says exposure to wood smoke can be linked to serious respiratory or cardiac problems and is especially harmful for children and older people.

People concerned about wood smoke pollution can call (877) 4NO-BURN or visit the agency’s website to file a complaint or get more information.

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