What is Spare the Air?Spare the Air is a voluntary air pollution reduction program sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) . On days when ozone (smog) levels are expected to violate state and federal health standards, residents are asked to refrain from activities that cause pollution. If everyone makes clean air choices, the air will be healthier to breathe.
What Can You Do To Spare the Air?Our combined efforts can go a long way towards improving air quality on smoggy days. Here's what you can do to Spare the Air:
- Leave your car at home on Spare the Air days. Try taking public transit, carpool, telecommute, walk or bike to work instead. Cars are the number one source of air pollution in the Bay Area.
- Don't use gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers on those days. These tools create about 9 tons of air pollution per day!
- Avoid using consumer spray products like hairspray and household cleaners. Instead, try solids, gels, or liquids.
- Ignite your barbecue with an electric or chimney starter only - don’t use lighter fluid.
- Refuel your car after the sun has gone down - and DON’T top off the tank. Fumes from refueling add about 11.2 tons of pollution, and spillage from topping off adds about 1.7 tons per day.
Winter Spare the AirFrom November to February, particulate matter can become a problem in the Bay Area. The Air District issues Spare the Air Tonight advisories on nights when PM2.5 concentrations are expected to be unhealthy. On these nights, residents are asked not to drive and not to use their fireplaces and wood stoves. Wood burning produces about one-third of the particulate pollution on a typical winter night! REMEMBER- effective November 1, during an identified curtailment period (which usually will include “spare the air tonight” days), it is prohibited to operate wood-burning devices unless you are doing so as your only source of heat. Please see the BAAQMD’s regulation 6 for more information: http://www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Communications-and-Outreach/Air-Quality-in-the-Bay-Area/Wood-Burning/Wood-Burning-Rule-Information.aspx
What Creates Smog?The number one source of smog in the Bay Area is the automobile. More than 6.8 million people live in the Bay Area, driving 4.6 million cars 144 million miles a day. That creates over 322 tons of air pollution each day! Other sources of air pollution include consumer spray products like hairspray and household cleaners (52 tons per day), gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment (13 tons per day), recreational boats (29 tons), and oil-based paints, varnishes & other coatings (25 tons).
How Does Air Pollution Affect People?High ozone levels contribute to respiratory problems such as asthma, shortness of breath, pain during deep breaths (especially when exercising outdoors), bronchitis, coughing and wheezing. The people most susceptible to ozone’s harmful effects are children, whose lungs are still developing, seniors, and people with preexisting respiratory problems.
When the Air District predicts that ozone levels for the next day will violate state or federal health standards, it will fax and/or e-mail a notice to UC Berkeley at approximately 1:15 PM. UC Berkeley will then notify the campus via the main UC Berkeley home page . The Air District will also notify print media, TV and radio stations, so they can inform the general public. In addition, the Air District will post a notice on the Spare the Air web site, www.sparetheair.org, and on its toll-free number, 1(800) HELP AIR.
Thanks for helping to Spare the Air!