Air Quality Worsens Again – Stage 2 Burn Ban re-imposed upon Pierce County

The use of all heating devices that use wood as a fuel, including pellet stoves, have been banned again in Pierce County by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency as air pollution levels mount.

 This is a continuation of prohibitions against wood fires that began last week on January 12 in the interest of reducing health risks for many residents.  State health officials estimate that one person dies each day of winter due to chronic exposure to wood smoke.  In addition, the state spends nearly $200 million treating Washingtonians affected by wood smoke, such as dealing with asthma and bronchial infections.

In fact, Harborview Hosipital in Seattle has a special treatment unit for cardiac patients who experience heart attacks triggered by exposure to the particulate matter found in wood smoke and diesel exhaust.

 Here is the Burn Ban announcement as released today by the PSCAA:

 **********************************

 Effective at 1 p.m. today, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is elevating the Pierce County air quality burn ban to a Stage 2.  A Stage 1 burn ban continues in Snohomish County until further notice.

 “Pollution levels in Pierce County spiked overnight and reached UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS,” said Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, agency forecaster.  “We expect cold, stagnant conditions for at least the next few days so we are raising the ban to Stage 2 to protect Pierce County communities from worsening air quality.”

 “With cold, calm, and clear conditions expected through the weekend, there is a potential for air quality to degrade in other parts of our jurisdiction as well,” noted Dr. Swartzendruber.  “Especially in communities where wood-burning is common. We may need to reinstate a burn ban for King County and raise Snohomish County to a Stage 2.”

 “We encourage everyone who doesn’t rely on wood heat to use instead their home’s cleaner source of heat until weather conditions change.”

 Clean Air Agency staff follow a protocol set by state law to determine when and where to issue a burn ban, and when to lift a burn ban.

 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.
  • 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.

 During a Stage 1 burn ban:

  • No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood 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.
  • 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, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 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).

 For more information:                                                                                      

 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.

 The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air, usually due to excessive wood smoke.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Health. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s