Spare The Air - Winter


What is Winter Spare the Air?

Winter Spare the Air is a pollution reduction program sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). On winter days, paarticulate matter can become a problem in the Bay Area. To prpotect public health, residents are asked to refrain from activities that cause pollution on these days. In addition, a new BAAQMD regulation was passed in July 2008 that makes burning wood, firelogs or pellets illegal when a Winter Spare the Air Alert is in effect.










According to the new BAAQMD regulation, it is illegal to operate any wood-burning devices on Winter Spare the Air Alers. The definition of wood-burning devices includes:

  • wood-burnng stoves or heaters
  • pellet-fueled devices
  • space heating or aesthetic indoor wood-burning elements

The definition of wood-burning devices does NOT include those inteneded exclusively for cooking food, such as wood-fired overns or barbecues.

How long does the Winter Spare the Air Season last?

The Winter spare the Air season runs from November to February.


Are there any exemptions to the wood-burning devices curtailmnt during Winter Spare the Air Alerts?

Yes. If electrical power OR natural gas service is not available in your area, you may qualify for an exemption. You may also qualify fo an exemption if operating a wood-burnig device is your only source of heat. Please see the BAAQMD regulation for a complete description of exemptions:

Why is the operation of wood-burning devices prohibited during Winter Spare the Air Alerts?

Wood burning produces about one-third of the particulate pollution on a typical winter night. There are an estimated 1.4 million fireplaces and woodstoves in the bay area; wood smoke air pollution from these applicances has been a health concern for many years, especially on winter evenings.


What are particulates a health concern?

Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid particles in the air. The smaller-sized particles are of greatest health concern because they can pass through the nose and throat, lodging deep in the lungs. There have been many correlation between rising PB levels with serious health effects, such as asthma symptoms and decreased lung function.

What other things can I do to reduce wood smoke pollution?

The BAAQMD gives 10 tips to reducing wood smoke pollution on their website:

  • Give your fireplace or wood stove the night off.
  • Replace your fireplace or wood stove with a clean burning natural gas device.
  • Insulate your house to keep warmth in.
  • Save energy and reduce pollution by wearing a sweater on chilly nights.
  • Switch to an EPA-certified wood burning device or pellet stove, which emit up to 70% less PM.
  • Burn clean, hotter fires with plenty of air, in order to prevent visible smoke from a chimney or flue; smoke which indicates poor combustion so adjust dampers or fuel accordingly.
  • Never burn, painted wood, treated wood, paticle board, plastics, wrapping paper or other garbage; burning them relaases toxic chemicals.
  • Burn only dry hardwood fuel such as oak or cherry, which produces less smoke and burns hotter; never burn wet wood.
  • Store wood in dry or covered area, off the ground to keep it from getting wet.
  • Keep you fireplace and stove well maintained to improve air flow and reduce emissions.


Thanks for helping to Spare the Air!


Click here for summer Spare The Air information.