The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the eighth straight winter Spare the Air alert for Friday, saying a persistent high pressure system that has been in place over the region will continue, causing dry and calm conditions and a buildup of air pollution.
On winter Spare the Air days, it is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood in their fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or other devices, although there are certain exemptions for homes without permanently installed heating.
"Through this an unusually long period of winter Spare the Air alerts, Bay Area residents have helped reduce smoke pollution in the region by not burning wood," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement.
Air district officials say the system is expected to weaken by Saturday, which could help blow some of the pollution out of the region.
"Wood smoke has immediate health impacts for many Bay Area residents and if this windless, rainless pattern continues, we may have to call a wood-burning ban through the New Year," Broadbent said.
Wood smoke is the biggest source of air pollution in the Bay Area in the wintertime and can be particularly harmful to children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses, according to the air district.
First-time violators of the wood-burning ban can take a wood smoke awareness class in lieu of a $100 ticket, while subsequent violations can result in tickets of $500 and higher.