fireplace.jpgThe restraint we all showed in not burning things during the 15 Spare The Air days declared this winter has been rewarded, say authorities, with a decrease in air pollution.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District established the Spare the Air program to “educate people about air pollution,” and to punish them when they fail to comply with air quality rules.

During the Winter Spare the Air season, when officials believe Bay Area air pollution is reaching unhealthy levels, a Spare The Air day is declared, banning wood burning, (with some exceptions). This year’s Winter Spare the Air season ran from November through February.

Out of this year’s 15 Spare The Air days, KCBS reports that 3777 violations were reported (citizens can do this online or by calling 1-877-4NO-BURN), resulting in 346 warning letters and 13 tickets.

“We are seeing overall, across the Bay Area, a decrease in wood smoke levels according to our data,” an Air Quality Management District official told KCBS. “And our surveys are showing that about 25 percent of people are burning less on at least once instance throughout the year.”

Air quality superfans (and who isn’t one of those?) can check current air conditions at You can even mull the organization’s five-day air quality forecast, if you really feel like geeking out on that stuff.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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