Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Air Time: Burn bans in Chelan, Douglas counties

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Air Quality Program

Burn bans start at 4 p.m. today (Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012) in Chelan and Douglas counties, where air quality is expected to worsen this week, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.

Ecology’s Stage 1 burn bans for Chelan and Douglas counties will continue until at least 10 a.m. Monday (Feb. 6), when they could be called off or extended. The Stage 1 bans apply to unnecessary use of uncertified wood-burning devices (including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces) and to all outdoor burning.

Ecology’s burn bans do not apply to tribal lands, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.

Smoke from outdoor burning and wood-burning devices builds 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 uncertified wood-burning devices – including fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts – is prohibited unless they are a home’s only source of heat. Uncertified units typically were built before 1990 and lack a certification label on the back of the unit.

  • 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.

  • No excessive smoke is allowed from any wood-burning device beyond a 20-minute start-up.

Burn ban violators are subject to civil penalties.

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

For burn ban updates:
You can report burn ban violators by calling Ecology’s smoke complaint hotline (1-866-211-6284).

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