Sunday, January 2, 2011

Air Time: Ecology upgrades Kittitas County burn ban to highest level

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Air Quality Program

On Sunday (Jan. 2), Ecology upgraded a burn ban in Kittitas County to Stage 2 because air pollution levels caused by smoke are not dropping.

Ecology’s Stage 2 burn ban for Kittitas County is effective immediately and will continue until at least 10 a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 4). The Stage 2 ban applies to use of all wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces, and to all outdoor burning.

Under a Stage 2 ban:
  • Use of all types of fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts is prohibited unless they are a home’s only source of heat.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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