FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Jan. 2, 201111-002
Ecology upgrades burn ban for Kittitas County to highest level
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is upgrading 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, 2011). 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 www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/outdoor_woodsmoke/burn_ban.htm.
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.
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’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. (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/Default.htm)
The difference is that WAQA shows that air quality is unhealthy earlier, when fewer fine particles are in the air. For more information, see this Ecology focus sheet. (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs/0802022.pdf)