Everybody’s talking about the horrendous air pollution in Beijing, where the US Embassy posts their PM2.5 measurements online. As of today, the PM2.5 results in an Air Quality Index of 105. Anything between 101 and 150 is considered “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.”
In the meantime, the San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued its fourth winter “Spare the Air” alert for this season. The air quality is forecast to be unhealthy for sensitive groups (USG) for parts of the Bay Area Wednesday through this weekend.
Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke, according to the BAAQMD. It is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood or other solid fuels in fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire-pits, or other wood-burning devices. This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano Counties.
I live in Santa Cruz County, which has no wood burning restrictions. That means I’m coughing my lungs out all winter as my neighbors enjoy their picturesque fireplaces on cold nights.