A Stage 2 Burn Ban has been declared in Pierce County by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency as air pollution intensifies. This is the most severe ban the agency can announce, and it forbids the use of any wood stove, even if certified. It also bans all outdoor burning.
Violators are subject to fines that can reach $1,000, and the PSCCA has announced it has increased its number of inspectors, especially in Pierce County, which is under US EPA sanctions due to severely unhealthy air.
Pierce County is one of 32 “non-attainment” zones for air quality in the United States, and is the only such designated area in Washington state.
Washington state health officials claim that nearly $200 miilion is spent annually on health costs to treat those affected by chronic exposure to wood smoke, and they further estimate that 140 residents die each year because of these unhealthy breathing conditions.
The following is the official press release from the PSCAA, as received today by the Mountain News.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 13, 2013 – The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is issuing a Stage 2 burn ban in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties to protect residents from worsening air quality. The bans are effective at noon, Sunday, January 13, 2013 and remain in effect until further notice.
Overnight, many areas around the Puget Sound reached air pollution levels of “UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS”, especially in areas where wood burning is common. Agency forecasters expect the current cold, dry, and stagnant weather conditions to extend well into the week. The Clean Air Agency will continue to closely monitor the air quality and weather situation.
During a Stage 2 burn ban:
- No burning is allowed in ANY wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves or fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.
- No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
- Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 2 burn ban.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).
(Note: The Seattle Parks Department prohibits beach fires at Alki and GoldenGardens during the burn ban.)
For more information:
- Frequently asked questions about burn bans
- How to heat efficiently and cleanly
- Updated air pollution data and forecasts
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is an air quality management agency serving King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Created as a result of the 1967 Washington Clean Air Act, the agency protects public health by adopting and enforcing air quality regulations, educating individuals and businesses about clean-air choices and sponsoring voluntary initiatives to improve air quality.
Please rely on your home’s cleaner source of heat until air quality improves