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Wood fires banned as Spare the Air alert extended through Tuesday

A view of downtown from Visitacion Valley | Kori Suzuki for The Standard

A ban on burning wood or any solid fuel in the Bay Area has been extended through Tuesday due to wood smoke pollution across the region, air district officials said.

A Spare the Air Alert issued on Monday was extended another day due to weather conditions that continue to trap smoke at ground level, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

It is illegal to burn wood or manufactured fire logs in fireplaces, woodstoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Spare the Air Alert for fine particle pollution.

Cold overnight temperatures, dense fog and limited vertical mixing allow wood smoke to hover at ground level, leading to unhealthy air quality, air district officials said.

"Wood burning has immediate and long-term health impacts, harming those most vulnerable," said Sharon Landers, interim executive officer of the air district.

Exemptions are available for homes where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat. Anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device must use an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the air district to qualify for an exemption. An open-hearth fireplace no longer qualifies for an exemption.

Wood smoke contains carcinogenic substances, such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide that are harmful when inhaled, air district officials said.

Exposure to wood smoke has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and increased risk of heart attacks. The fine particulate pollution in wood smoke is especially harmful for children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions, according to the air district.

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