District issues Spare the Air Tonight advisory

Bay Area residents are being asked to celebrate the New Year by ensuring good air quality Tuesday night as part of the first Spare the Air Tonight advisory of 2008, a Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokeswoman said.

<p>Officials ask that during the Spare the Air advisory period, from Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, residents refrain from burning wood in stoves and fireplaces and avoid unnecessary driving, spokeswoman Karen Schkolnick said.

Tonight’s Spare the Air advisory is the first of the year and the sixth advisory issued during the 2007-08 winter season, Schkolnick said.

Spare the Air nights are issued during winter months when officials forecast unhealthy concentrations of particulate matter in the air, Schkolnick said.

During winter months, burning wood contributes to a large portion of concentrated particulate pollution, which can cause serious health problems for the very young, the elderly, and people with respiratory or cardiovascular problems, according to air district officials.

However, compared with the 2006-07 winter season, when particulate pollution exceeded standards 20 times in the Bay Area, this season has been much better, Schkolnick said.

“We’re doing better,” Schkolnick said. “It is really up to the public to see how we can help to ensure we have good air quality this year.”

No free transit is offered during the winter Spare the Air nights, officials said.

More information about Spare the Air Tonight program and air quality forecasts are available online at http://www.sparetheair.org.

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