Bay Area Air Pollution Worst in Years

Calm weather and sunshine have helped trap car exhaust and wood smoke.

Enjoying that holiday sunshine? Your lungs arent: the winter's mild weather is leading to the worst air quality in years, according to pollution watchers.

Spare the Air days have been called 12 times since Nov. 1, the San Francisco Chronicle observed. The worst day thus far was Christmas, according to staffers from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which fingered yule logs -- or whatever else is burnt in chimneys on the 25th of December -- for air so foul that it was just as bad as summer 2008, when wildfires plagued nearly all of the state.

Bad air from car exhaust and wood smoke is lingering because the usual wet winter storms are being shooed away by a high pressure front, the newspaper said. The bad air contains fine particulate matter, which can lodge deep in lungs and lead to many bad illnesses like lung cancer, asthma and the like.

Even those with healthy lungs can be harmed: in their wallets. With more than a million fireplaces in the Bay Area, the Air Quality Management District is serious about the ban on fires, and encourages neighbors to report wood smoke emanating from a nearby chimney.

About 400 reports rolled in on Christmas, and another 411 instances were reported over the New Year weekend, the Chronicle reported. Repeat offenders can be fined $400. There have been 314 citations issued via the mails since November.

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