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Winter Spare the Air season ends with only one burn ban issued

'This year's winter weather proved helpful for reducing harmful wood smoke pollution,' air district exec says

The Bay Area's Winter Spare the Air season ended this week with only one wood-burning ban issued during the entire season, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

More frequent storm systems moving through the region ventilated air pollution much more compared to last year's winter season. In the 2014-15 season, 23 Spare the Air alerts were issued.

The longest stretch without rainfall this season was for 14 days in February. Last year, there was a stretch of 56 days in January and February with no rainfall, air district officials said.

On a Winter Spare the Air day, wood burning is prohibited. Wood burning is the largest source of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area, releasing harmful particulates and carbon monoxide, according to the air district.

The single Winter Spare the Air alert this season was issued on Jan. 2. On that day, the air district received 1,302 complaints of wood smoke and issued one citation for a Santa Clara County resident.

"This year's winter weather proved helpful for reducing harmful wood smoke pollution, but we may not be so lucky next year," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement. "Now is the time to consider replacing that older, more polluting fireplace."

The air district is planning to roll out a $3 million funding program for assistance in upgrading wood stoves later this year.

— Bay City News Service

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