In the winter, they tell us not to burn wood.
In the summer, they urge us not to drive.
They're Spare the Air alerts, issued on days when unhealthy levels of pollution are expected by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which covers a wide area including Marin County.
What's your opinion of the smog alerts? Tell us in the comments below.
The latest alert is in effect for Tuesday, according to an announcement from the air district Monday:
Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy tomorrow, Tuesday, July 10. There is no free transit tomorrow and there is no wood burning ban in place.
The Air District recommends residents avoid outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, when air quality is unhealthiest.
“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.”
The Air District encourages the public to re-think their commute by taking transit, carpooling, working from home or biking and leave their car at home twice a week to avoid air pollution that builds up and creates unhealthy smog when the Bay Area experiences high temperatures.
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.
Do you think these Spare the Alerts are worthwhile?
Do you think they're a waste of time?
Do you follow the air quality district's advice for smoggy days?
Do you ignore the whole thing?
Let us know in the comments, and if there's another topic you'd rather vent about, feel free to bring that up, too.