Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Air District is asking Bay Area residents to not burn wood in their fireplaces or woodstoves over the Christmas holiday to keep air quality from becoming unhealthy. Gathering around a fireplace may be a Christmas tradition for many, but there are serious health impacts associated with wood burning.

Spare the Air Status

Without additional wood burning activity, air quality is expected to be in the moderate range throughout the Bay Area. However, wood burning during the Christmas holiday can significantly impact localized areas and neighborhoods. Wood burning can also significantly impact indoor air quality. A Spare the Air Alert is NOT in effect and wood burning is not illegal. However, wood burning is strongly discouraged at this time.

Decorative wrapping paper is manufactured using synthetic inks, plastic film, metallic finishes and other chemicals which release toxic and carcinogenic compounds into the air when burned. The smoke is released into your home and neighborhood where family and friends will breathe it in. It is always illegal to burn wrapping paper, trash and scrap wood.

Like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains carcinogenic substances such as particulate matter, benzene and formaldehyde, which are harmful when inhaled. Wood smoke is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area in the wintertime and is especially harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions.

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 AirAlerts at
  • Signing up for automatic phone alerts at
  • Downloading the Spare the Air iPhone or Android app

View press release.

Last Updated: 12/24/2023