Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Air Time: Ecology ends Kittitas, Stevens burn bans

Burn Ban Update

Effective immediately, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has ended Stage 1 burn bans in Kittitas and Stevens counties.

The Stevens County ban, which took effect Saturday (Jan. 19, 2013) was scheduled to expire this morning (Jan. 22). The Kittitas County ban was issued Jan. 15. A Stage 1 ban prohibits use of uncertified wood-burning devices (including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces) and all outdoor burning.

These activities may resume now. However, local residents should think twice because smoke caused by burning 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 or avoiding burning, residents of Kittitas and Stevens counties 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 about $190 million in health-care costs each year in Washington. (See below.)

For burn ban updates:
  • Check local media reports.
  • Call Ecology’s daily burn decision hotline (1-800-406-5322 in Washington).
  • Check Ecology’s burn bans web page. (See below.)
  • Go online to http://www.waburnbans.net.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse.

Ecology recommends that people limit vehicle trips, combine errands or use public transportation to reduce air pollution.

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 uses color-coded categories to show when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy.

For more information:

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