Monday, January 3, 2011

Air Time: Ecology burn bans extended in Chelan, Douglas counties

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Air Quality Program

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is extending burn bans now in effect in Chelan and Douglas counties.

Bans have expired in several other Eastern Washington counties.

Ecology’s Stage 1 burn bans will continue until at least 10 a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 4, 2011) for Chelan and Douglas counties. Stage 1 bans apply to unnecessary use of uncertified wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces, and to all outdoor burning.

Meanwhile, Stage 1 burn bans will expire as scheduled at 10 a.m. today (Monday, Jan. 3) in these counties: Asotin, Garfield, Columbia, Walla Walla, Stevens, Ferry, and Okanogan counties.

Smoke from outdoor burning, wood stoves and fireplaces is likely to build up where cold air is trapped near the ground. Fine particles in smoke are so small they can easily get into your lungs. Once there, they can cause heart and breathing problems, and even death. Children, people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, and adults older than 65 are most at risk.

Under a Stage 1 ban:
  • Use of fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves and uncertified inserts is prohibited unless they are a home’s only source of heat.

  • All outdoor burning – including residential, agricultural and forest burning – is prohibited.

  • Use of certified wood-burning devices and pellet stoves is allowed. Ecology recommends burning hot fires using only clean, dry wood.

A 2009 Ecology analysis estimates that fine particles contribute to about 1,100 deaths and $190 million in health-care costs each year in Washington.

For updates, check local media reports, Ecology’s daily burn decision hotline (1-800-406-5322) and

The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution should limit the time they spend outdoors. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse.

You can track air quality in your area by using the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA). This is Ecology’s tool for informing people about the health effects of air pollution, including fine particles. It’s very similar to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s national information tool, the Air Quality Index (AQI). Both use color-coded categories to show when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy.


See a list of certified wood stoves and clean burning tips

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