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Air Quality Advisory - COVID-19

N e w s   R e l e a s e

Monterey Bay  Air Resources District      

24580 Silver Cloud Court                                                                              

PH: 831/647-9411   FAX 831/647-8501

serving Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties


Monterey, California – April 8, 2020

The air quality in our tri-county region has been exceptionally good these past several weeks. The statewide shelter-in-place order has resulted in a significant reduction in traffic and associated vehicular emissions.  Also, the recent series of storms have had a cleansing effect on our air quality by dispersing and further diminishing air pollution.  However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic most people are at their residences when they would ordinarily be at work, leading to an increase in the use of woodstoves and fireplaces for home heating and a corresponding increase in localized smoke impacts, which can be significant, in neighborhoods throughout the region.

As COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, the Monterey Bay Air Resources Air District (MBARD) is asking residents to avoid adding more pollution to the air by limiting their use of wood burning stoves and fireplaces. MBARD encourages residents to choose a cleaner alternative such as natural gas, propane, wood pellet, and electric devices for home heating.  If residents must burn wood for home heating, they are encouraged to do so cleanly by building hot fires, making sure the fire has plenty of air, not “dampering down” the air flow vents at night, and only burning dry and seasoned wood.

Many residents are also taking the opportunity while being at home to do some yard work and conduct backyard burns. Any backyard burning is required to be done in a way which reduces smoke generation by arranging the material loosely to allow air to circulate freely, only burning material that is free of surface moisture, and only burning on designated burn days.  Burning garbage is strictly prohibited and burning poison oak should be avoided.

MBARD continuously tracks air quality. Air quality conditions for pollutants and forecasts are available at:

Health Effects of Smoke:

Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. These fine particles are especially harmful to the very young, very old, and to people with heart and lung disease. If you have further questions, you can find information about the health effects of smoke and tips on reducing emissions from wood burning devices on the EPA Burn Wise website at and at the MBARD website at

Richard A. Stedman

Air Pollution Control Officer