Spare the Air

MTC works with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) to reduce driving on days when seasonal weather affects the air quality.

Noah Berger

On hot, windless summer days and still winter nights, pollution in the air gets trapped over the Bay Area, creating unhealthy air that can be dangerous for people to breathe. That’s how seasonal weather increases the impact of air pollution from activities like driving.

The Spare the Air program provides advance notice when air quality is expected to be unhealthy — so we can all take action to reduce air pollution when it’s most likely to do harm.

How Clean is Bay Area Air?

Particulates in the air have an impact on our air quality and our health. See historical statistics on regional air quality.

Visit the Vital Signs website.
Spare the Air

Visit the Spare the Air website 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.

How to Make a Difference

MTC and the Air District encourage residents to reduce driving on Spare the Air days and to make clean air choices every day by:

  • Walking and biking more often
  • Riding transit
  • Carpooling
  • Telecommuting
  • Reducing energy consumption at home
Spare the Air Youth

Spare the Air Youth educates and inspires Bay Area youth and their families to walk, bicycle, carpool and take transit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Spare the Air Youth Event, Berkeley, October 2012
Safe Routes to School

The Safe Routes to School grants support safer street infrastructure that encourages kids and families to walk or roll to school.

A group of students using crosswalk
Summer Can Be Brutal

Ozone pollution (known as 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.

Winter Spare the Air

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.