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Spare the Air

Advance notice can help us all breathe easier.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Spare the Air program provides advance notice when air quality is expected to be unhealthy — typically on hot, windless summer days or on still winter nights.

Casual Carpool
Noah Berger
Casual carpool.

MTC for more than 25 years has joined the Air District to encourage residents to reduce driving on Spare the Air days and to make clean air choices everyday by:

  • Walking and biking more often
  • Riding transit
  • Carpooling
  • Telecommuting
  • Reducing energy consumption at home

To sign up for Air Alert notifications, find out whether a Spare the Air Alert is in effect, or learn what else you can do to improve air quality, visit the Spare the Air website.


Ozone pollution, or smog, can become a health problem during the summer months.

The Air District issues Spare the Air Alerts on days when ozone levels are forecast to be unhealthy, particularly for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions.

Residents are urged to drive less and to reduce the use of ozone-forming pollutants. Those who are particularly sensitive to unhealthy air are advised to limit their time outdoors, especially in the afternoon.

During the winter months, pollution from particulate matter (sometimes known as soot) can reach unhealthy levels in the Bay Area.

On days when particulate levels are forecast to be high, the Air District issues a Winter Spare the Air Alert, making wood burning illegal throughout the Bay Area. On these days, residents (particularly those with respiratory conditions) are advised to limit their time outdoors.

What are environmental conditions like in the Bay Area? How have conditions changed over the years? How do they compare to other metro areas? Find out when you visit Vital Signs, our interactive website with tons of data.