Outdoor Burning Illegal in Cities & Urban Growth Areas (UGAs)
With the passing of last week’s storms, western Washington now faces the daunting task of cleaning up.
The heavy snow and ice storms resulted in hundreds of downed trees and broken limbs throughout the region. Rather than trying to burn that wet, green wood, Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) asks that homeowners either simply pile their yard debris in a safe location on their property for the time being, or use currently available alternative means of disposal. The trees and limbs that came down as a result of the storms this month are wet and mostly likely green. That means that woody debris will not burn cleanly, resulting in excessive smoke and fine particular matter (PM2.5) air pollution.
Chipping and composting are the best option, though other alternatives to burning are also available. You can find more details on the options at www.orcaa.org or by calling your local waste disposal company. ORCAA also reminds residents that outdoor burning is prohibited year-round for most Washington cities and the cities’ Urban Growth Area (UGA) boundaries.
Likewise, that storm-debris wood is not suitable for use in wood stoves or fireplaces this winter.
If residents do have storm debris that’s potentially useable in their home heating appliances, it should be cut into useable lengths, split and stacked under cover now so it can dry and cure for last least 9 months before use next fall. Clean, dry firewood produces little or no smoke when burned properly, while wet wood produces substantial smoke as much of the fire’s heat is used to dry the wood enough for combustion.
Of particular concern are fine particles released by smoke from outdoor burning, or indoor use of wood stoves and fireplaces. 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).