Burn Ban Extended In Spokane County Due Air Stagnation - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Burn Ban Extended In Spokane County Due Air Stagnation

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Stage 1 "Condition Yellow" burn ban will continue at least until mid-week, the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency announced Monday. The National Weather Service has extended the Air Stagnation Advisory for Spokane County until Noon Thursday. 
 
Burn bans will continue until at least 10 a.m., Thursday (Dec. 15) in seven other Eastern Washington counties because stagnant air continues to trap harmful smoke, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.

Ecology's Stage 1 burn bans for Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, and Walla Walla counties will continue until at least 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, 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.

Only EPA-certified wood burning devices and pellet stoves are allowed. These devices are mostly those made after 1993. Devices should have a label documenting its certification status.
 
Under a Stage 1 burning ban:
  • No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home's other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home's only adequate source of heat.
  • No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimneys.
  • It is OK to use natural gas, oil, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
 
The use of any uncertified wood heating devices, including fireplaces, uncertified fireplace inserts and uncertified wood stoves, is banned in the Smoke Control Zone.  All outdoor burning throughout Spokane County is also banned. 
 
"Restricting the use of fireplaces and older, more polluting stoves has made a positive impact on pollution levels," according to Ron Edgar, Chief of Technical Services for Spokane Clean Air. "During this lengthy stagnation, we've been able to keep particle pollution levels in the "moderate" range for the most part, which means this program is working," added Edgar.
 
There have been extended (consecutive day) burn bans in the past. During the last ten years there was a 13-day ban in 2002, 8-day ban in 2003, 6-day ban in 2005, and a 5-day ban in 2007.
 
There were no wood burning restrictions in 2008, 2009 or 2010, but that has certainly changed in 2011. "Weather patterns are certainly a key factor in issuing wood burning restrictions, though it does concern us that wood burning in general may be up a bit. We'd like people with the older stoves to consider upgrading them to either new wood or pellet devices or gas stoves or inserts," added Edgar.  "The newer wood stoves burn much more efficiently using less wood to heat."  
 
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. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).

Wood burning devices, such as stoves, inserts and fireplaces are responsible for approximately 80% of the particulate (smoke) pollution in Spokane County during the winter months. Over 2,000 tons of fine particulates are released into the air during the wood burning season.
 
Throughout the heating season, wood burners are advised to check current burning conditions prior to lighting any fires, by calling the Burning Information line at (509) 477-4710 or visiting www.spokanecleanair.org.

The Dept. of Ecology's daily burn decision hotline is 1-800-406-5322 and Ecology's website  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. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).

 

 

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