(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

First winter Spare the Air day issued

The first winter Spare the Air Alert in the San Francisco Bay Area has been issued for today, officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said.

Wood burning both indoors and outdoors is banned for 24 hours for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano counties because air is forecast to be unhealthy.

Smoke from wood burning is especially harmful to children and older residents and is linked to diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease, according to air district officials.

Air pollution in the winter is caused mainly by soot from wood smoke, air district officials said.

It is illegal for residents to burn solid fuels such as wood in outdoor fire pits, fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves and other devices.

An exception is made for residents whose only source of heat is a wood-burning device, but that device must be government certified and a pellet-fueled device that has been registered with the air district.

Open-hearth fireplaces no longer qualify for an exemption, according to the air district.

For more information about the Spare the Air Alert rules, residents can visit sparetheair.org or call (877) 4NO-BURN (466-2876).

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