Friday, May 28, 2010

Air Time: Enjoy holiday safe from wildfire, harmful smoke

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Air Quality Program

It looks like the weather will be decent enough this weekend for folks to get outdoors for the Memorial Day holiday.

For the most part, that’s great news. But camping and other outdoor activities often mean lighting campfires and using fire to clear property. The fires can easily spread out of control, damage property and the environment and threaten human health.

Ecology and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working together to reduce the number of wildfires in the state and to prevent health problems caused by breathing smoke.

This smoke contains some of the same chemicals that are present in cigarette smoke. And like cigarette smoke, breathing in the tiny, toxic particles in smoke from outdoor burning can cause serious health problems like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer.

DNR offers tips on how to prevent wildfires.

Beyond that, our agencies are working to round up burn barrels, which are illegal statewide. We’re organizing events in several counties where people can bring in their burn barrels and exchange them for free compost bins. A federal grant from the Bureau of Land Management for wildfire prevention is making this project possible.

As we firm up event details, we will post them on Ecology’s Alternatives To Burning website.

Have a great holiday!

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