New Year’s Eve comes with Winter Spare the Air alert

New Year’s Eve will be another Winter Spare the Air day for the Bay Area, so those planning to pop open a bottle of champagne next to a roaring fire may have to settle for a few candles instead.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued the season’s 23rd Spare the Air alert – banning residential wood burning – because of continuing dry, stagnant weather that has allowed unhealthy particulate matter to accumulate close to the ground. Fireworks will still be shot off over the Bay because the Winter Spare the Air alert doesn’t apply to them.

The annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show in San Francisco is expected to draw thousands to The City’s northern waterfront. “It’s unfortunate that this may be a bad air quality day,” air district spokesman Aaron Richardson said.

He said that the ban specifically targets wood-burning fireplaces because that is where much of the region’s air pollution comes from during the winter months. Fireworks displays occur just a few times a year, he said.

Richardson said there may be a weather system arriving in the coming days that would sweep away some of the accumulated pollution.

“We’re hoping that toward the end of the week we’ll get some flushing out of the air,” he said.

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