While a bit of sun and lack of rain later this week presents a nice change of pace, it also could mean degraded air quality.
On Thursday and into the weekend, temperatures are expected to be chilly, with little wind to clear the air. The cold nights and still, foggy mornings tend to prompt more use of woodstoves and fireplaces. Unfortunately, in these conditions any smoke we put into the air around us, stays in the air around us. The result could be rising levels of air pollution.
In the interest of public health and safety, the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) asks that all residents refrain from burning unless absolutely necessary.
Burning wood creates smoke composed of fine and very fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These tiny particles are too small to be filtered by the nose and the body’s other natural defense mechanisms, so they may end up being inhaled deep into the lungs. That means that exposure to wood smoke may, at the very least, cause breathing problems and can increase – sometimes substantially increase – the severity of existing lung disease, such as asthma. Smoke also has been shown to aggravate heart and vascular disease.
In addition to minimizing the use of woodstoves and fireplaces, ORCAA asks homeowners to use alternative means of disposal to clean up their yards. Chipping and composting are the best option, though other alternatives to burning are also available. You can find more details on the options here or by calling your local waste disposal company.
If residents do need to burn, ORCAA encourages them to do so only at mid-day during the period of greatest air ventilation. During early morning and late evening hours the inversion is strongest, so at those times, any smoke remains trapped at ground level, creating significant air pollution issues.
To learn about the health effects of air pollution, check out the American Lung Association of Washington’s Web site at www.alaw.org. To find the latest on the status of burn restrictions within ORCAA’s six-county region, click here.