Bay Area residents are barred from burning wood for 24 hours on Saturday as Northern California authorities strive to keep air as clean as they can during the winter. This is the first Spare the Air Alert issued by California this season.
When such alert is issued, residents can no longer burn wood and other similar materials for home heating for a whole day. The ban affects a wide range of heating devices such ad fire-pits, fireplaces, and pellet and wood stoves.
Experts explained that the smoke resulted from these devices, when wood is used, carries particulates that pollute the air, thus, affecting the respiratory systems of people and rising their risk to develop lung cancers, asthma, and other conditions.
Particulate pollution from wood burning affects quality of air in Bay Area especially in winter. In other times of the year, air is polluted through emissions from vehicles or various industries, vapors from gas or chemicals, and various devices and products that raise ozone levels at ground level.
Ozone can promote irritation and/or congestion of the respiratory tract, worsen asthma and bronchitis, and damage the lungs’ lining. Being exposed to ozone for long can irreversibly damage the ability of lungs to function.
The groups that have the highest risk of developing these conditions are children, the elderly, people with a weak immune system, and those affected by pre-existing lung and heart disease.
Because of air-pollution, outdoor physical exercise should be done early in the morning when ozone is at its lowest level, public health experts said. California authorities issue alerts whenever ground measurements show that the particulate concentration has reached dangerous levels.
Authorities also recommend residents some simple ways to spare the air on a daily basis such as taking public transport instead of family car to go to work, reduce energy use in their homes, avoid devices that use gas, BBQ without lighter fluids, carpool, and look out for sprays based on aerosols.
When a spare the air alert is in force, residents are no longer entitled to free transit, and could face fines if they burn wood in or around their homes.
As of this year, fines would be even higher than in previous years. For instance, people who fail to comply with the alert for the first time would have to take out of their pocket $100 or instruct themselves about particulate pollution and take a test. Offenders that refuse to comply with the ban for more than once will be fined $500, which represents a $100 rise from last year.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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