Spare the Air

Learn about the Spare the Air Program, how the seasons affect air quality, and how to find out whether a Spare the Air Alert is in effect.

The Air District created the Spare the Air Program to provide the public with advance notice when air quality is expected to be unhealthy, to educate residents about air pollution, and to encourage actions to improve air quality in the Bay Area.

As part of the Spare the Air Program, the Air District asks residents to reduce pollution by making clean air choices every day. This can include walking and biking more often, taking transit, telecommuting or carpooling, driving less, reducing energy consumption at home, and making many other daily choices that improve air quality.

Spare the Air in summertime

During the summer months, ozone pollution (also known as smog) can become a health problem in the Bay Area. The Air District issues Spare the Air Alerts on days when air quality is forecast to be unhealthy and urges residents to drive less and reduce the use of ozone-forming pollutants. Residents who are sensitive to unhealthy air are advised to limit their time outdoors, especially in the afternoon, when temperatures are warmer and ozone levels rise.

Spare the Air in wintertime

During the winter months, or during wildfire events throughout the year, particulate matter pollution can reach unhealthy levels in the Bay Area. On days when particulate matter levels are forecast to be high, the Air District issues a Spare the Air Alert, making wood burning illegal throughout the Bay Area. On these days, residents are advised to limit their time outdoors, especially those sensitive to unhealthy air. Residents can file a wood smoke complaint online or by calling 1-877-4NO-BURN (466-2876).

In 2019, the wood-burning ban was extended to include any days year-round when a Spare the Air Alert is in effect due to high levels of fine particulate pollution, such as during a wildfire.

Information about funding to replace wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts can be found on the Clean HEET web page.

Spare the Air Alerts

To find out whether a Spare the Air Alert is in effect:

  • Visit the Spare the Air website
  • Call 1-800-HELP-AIR, or 1-877-4NO-BURN (466-2876) for wood-burning bans
  • Download the Spare the Air app for iPhone or Android and check the air quality status on your smart phone
  • Sign up for Air Alert notifications by email
  • Connect with Spare the Air on social media (see social media links at top right of Spare the Air website)
  • Subscribe to Spare the Air Text Alerts 

Sign up for Spare the Air Text Alerts


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Last Updated: 8/3/2023