Spare the Air Alert to go in effect for Bay Area on Thursday, air quality district says

Bay City News
Wednesday, April 26, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert for Thursday because of elevated levels of smog expected in the region.

The alert is the first issued in 2023 by the air district for smog, otherwise known as ozone. Light winds and temperatures expected in the 80s for most of the Bay Area are expected to combine with motor vehicle exhaust to create unhealthy air quality.

Smog can cause throat irritation and chest pain and is considered particularly harmful for children, seniors and people with respiratory and heart conditions. On Spare the Air days, people are encouraged to only do outdoor exercise in the early morning hours when smog levels are lower.

"As temperatures heat up and our roadways become increasingly crowded, air quality is expected to be unhealthy," air district executive officer Philip Fine said in a statement. "This Spare the Air highlights the need to reduce cars on our roadways and find alternatives to driving alone such as taking transit, working remotely, walking or biking."

People can find out when a Spare the Air alert is in effect by registering for the alerts here, calling 1(800) HELP-AIR, downloading the Spare the Air smartphone app or connecting with Spare the Air on social media.

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window

What are Spare the Air days?

Air quality in the Bay Area can be unhealthy at times throughout the year.

Spare the Air Alerts are called 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 to young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions.

When a Spare the Air Alert is called, outdoor exercise should be done only in the early morning hours when ozone concentrations are lower. Residents are encouraged to reduce air pollution every day by rethinking their commute and avoiding driving alone.

Find out more about what the Air District is doing to address climate change in the nine-county Bay Area. Spare the Air-Cool the Climate is a blueprint for tackling regional air pollution and climate pollutants while improving the health of Bay Area residents for the next several decades. Check out the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's video about their vision on climate change:

On Spare the Air days or nights, there is no free transit.

Here's a list of simple things the public can do to make clean air choices every day:

  • Bike to work or around town
  • Take public transit
  • Work at home or telecommute
  • Carpool and link your errands to reduce driving
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers
  • Reduce household energy use
  • Don't use lighter fluid on the barbecue
  • Avoid using aerosol spray cleaners, paints and hairspray

The Spare the Air smog season runs from May through October. The Winter Spare the Air season runs from November through February.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the Bay Area. For more information about Spare the Air, visit