The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued its fourth Spare the Air Alert Thursday, the fourth in 2012 — three of which have been this week.
Air quality in the Bay Area has been classified as "unhealthy," with the Eastern district, which includes Martinez, ranked as the worst offender. Unnecessary driving and use of gasoline-powered equipment is discouraged, and a "no wood burning" ban is in place.
The Air District recommends residents avoid outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, when air quality is unhealthiest, which will be between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in Martinez as temperatures hit 84 degrees.
“A Spare the Air Alert underscores the need for the public to make clean air choices every day,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “If we re-think our commute twice a week, we can reduce the amount of pollution we produce to help avoid unhealthy air on high heat days.”
Spare the Air Alerts are issued when ozone pollution is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. Ozone, or smog, can cause throat irritation, congestion, chest pain, trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema. Long-term exposure to ozone can reduce lung function. Ozone pollution is particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions. When a Spare the Air Alert is issued, outdoor exercise should be done only in the early morning hours when ozone concentrations are lower.
Smog is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides from motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, industrial emissions and household chemicals combine with oxygen in the presence of heat and sunlight.
Residents can help Spare the Air by carpooling, taking transit, biking or walking instead of driving alone. Visit sparetheair.org or 511.org for more information about commute alternatives.
Residents can check for Spare the Air Alerts by:
• Visiting sparetheair.org
• Calling the toll-free hotline 1-800-HELPAIR (435-7247)
• Signing up for email AirAlerts at sparetheair.org
• Downloading the Spare the Air iPhone or Android app
• Connecting with Spare the Air on Facebook, Twitter or Google+
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. For more information about Spare the Air, visit www.sparetheair.org.