Due to forecasted stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution levels, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency announced Sunday that it is issuing a Stage 1 burn ban for Snohomish and Pierce counties, to protect residents from worsening air quality, effective at 5 p.m. Sunday. These bans are in effect until further notice.
Another ridge of high pressure is expected to impact the Puget Sound area over the next two nights. Evening temperature inversions, calm winds and cold temperatures will result in pollution building up through Tuesday, according to Clean Air Agency forecasters. Air quality is expected to deteriorate, especially Monday night, in Pierce and Snohomish county communities where residential wood burning is common. A wet weather system is anticipated late Tuesday or early Wednesday, which may return “good” air quality and allow lifting the ban.
Clean Air Agency staff follow a protocol set by state law to determine when and where to issue a burn ban, and when to lift a burn ban.
“We issue Stage 1 burn bans on the basis of weather conditions and rising pollution levels in the individual counties within our jurisdiction — when we predict these area may violate federal air quality standards,” said Craig Kenworthy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. “As a result, one or more counties may have a Stage 1 burn ban in place while others have no restrictions in place — or may have advanced to a Stage 2 burn ban.”
“I’d like to thank all of those who stopped burning last week and the week before when we issued the first burn ban of the season,” added Kenworthy. “It helped reduce the amount of pollution that built up, lessening the serious health impacts faced by people sensitive to air pollution – children, the elderly, and people with lung and heart conditions.”
During a Stage 1 burn 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 chimineas.
Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
– It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
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).