Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Air District’s Board of Directors voted to adopt new amendments that will strengthen the agency’s wood-burning regulation to safeguard public health against the hazards of fine particle pollution, especially during wildfires.

Spare the Air Status

Previously, wood burning was prohibited during Winter Spare the Air Alerts from November through February. The rule amendments extend the ban on wood burning year-round when particulate matter pollution reaches unhealthy levels. The extension of the wood-burning prohibition ensures high concentrations of air pollution, such as those that occur during wildfires, are not increased by wood-burning activities.

The adoption of the amendments is one action in a larger effort by the Air District to reduce the health and air quality impacts of wildfires. The Air District’s Wildfire Air Quality Response Program is a comprehensive program intended to prevent, prepare for and respond to future wildfires. The program ensures that health-protective measures and strategies are in place during wildfire smoke events.

Like wildfire smoke, wood smoke contains carcinogenic substances, such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide, which are harmful when inhaled. Exposure to wood smoke has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and increased risk of heart attacks. The fine particulate pollution in wood smoke is especially harmful for children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions.

During PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs, or other loss of electricity or gas service, there is an exemption that allows wood burning when there is no alternate form of heat available. However, wood burning is discouraged during PSPS events because it coincides with increased fire risk and often with wildfires, adding more air pollution when levels may already be high.

Bay Area residents can find out if a Spare the Air Alert is in effect by:

  • Signing up for text alerts. To sign up, text the word “START” to the number 817-57
  • Calling 1-877-4NO-BURN
  • Visiting or
  • Signing up for automatic e-mail or phone AirAlerts at
  • Downloading the Spare the Air iPhone or Android app

View press releaseLanguage Icon Globe.

Last Updated: 11/19/2019