The Bay Area Air Quality Management District‘s Spare the Air season started Monday, but the district said record-low numbers of cars on the region’s roads due to COVID-19-related shelter-in-place orders have led to good air quality throughout the area.

According to the air district, there has been a reduction in traffic by about 70 percent since the shelter orders initially went into effect in March, and that has led to a resulting drop in various pollutants of 20 percent or more.

During the Spare the Air summer season, the air district will issue alerts when smog, otherwise known as ozone, is forecast to reach unhealthy levels in the region.

Air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a news release that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that “teleworking can be a viable, flexible work option for many that benefits not only our air quality, but employers and employees as well.”

Broadbent said, “As employers create plans to safely reopen their doors and continue operations once shelter-in-place orders are eased, we should not lose sight of the benefits that reducing traffic can bring — teleworking can be part of the solution to keeping our skies blue.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.