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Jun 28

Spare the Air: Bay Area summer smog season is here

Posted on June 28, 2021 at 7:55 pm by Clay Curtin

As the pandemic improves and the number of cars on our roadways each day increases, vehicle emissions remains the largest source of smog pollution and greenhouse gas in the Bay Area. The Spare the Air campaign encourages Bay Area residents to drive less and look for ways to share, shorten or change their commutes to help reduce smog, traffic and gridlock in the region.

The campaign is meant to inform people about the dangerous effects of air pollution on health and ask residents to drive less to reduce pollution when a Spare the Air alert is issued. Between May–October, residents are encouraged to pay attention to daily air quality forecasts and make adjustments to their day’s activities when the pollution levels become high.
A Spare the Air alert will be issued when ground-level ozone (smog) is forecast to meet or exceed 126 on the Air Quality Index (AQI) with higher AQI numbers meaning there is a more pollution and a greater health risk.

Bay Area employees are encouraged to check with their human resources office as the return to work, to learn what commuter benefits are available through their employer. The Bay Area Commuter Benefits program requires all employers in the Air District’s jurisdiction with 50 or more full-time employees to offer commuter benefits to their workers. 

During the warmer weather months, Spare the Air Alerts are issued when smog, or ozone pollution, is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. Ozone can cause throat irritation, congestion and chest pain. It can trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema. Ozone pollution is particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions. When a Spare the Air Alert is called, limit outdoor exercise in the late afternoon when ozone concentrations are highest.

Know when a Spare the Air Alert is in effect:
  • Via text alerts by texting the word “START” to 817-57
  • By connecting with Spare the Air on Facebook or Twitter
  • On the website
  • By calling 1-800-HELP-AIR
  • By signing up for AirAlerts