Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Air Time: Ecology calls off burn bans in Eastern WA

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Air Quality Program

Burn bans will expire today (Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011) in seven Eastern Washington counties because air quality has improved, according to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).

Ecology’s Stage 1 burn bans for Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Kittitas, and Walla Walla counties will expire at 10 a.m. today.

During the burn bans, use of uncertified wood-burning devices (including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces) and all outdoor burning were prohibited.

These activities may resume now that the burn bans are lifted. However, Ecology urges people to think twice before burning because smoke from outdoor burning and wood-burning devices easily builds up at this time of year, when stagnant air conditions can trap smoke close to 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.

By limiting burning as much as possible, residents of affected areas can help prevent air quality from deteriorating to the point that burn bans are needed. And by following restrictions when burn bans are called, they can help limit the time period the bans are in effect.

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

For burn ban updates:
  • Check local media reports.

  • Call Ecology’s smoke complaint hotline (1-866-211-6284).

  • Check Ecology’s daily burn decision hotline (1-800-406-5322 in Washington) and Ecology’s website.

  • Go online to http://www.waburnbans.net/.

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