The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is lifting the air quality burn bans in King and Snohomish counties, effective at 1 p.m. today, Monday. A Stage 1 burn ban continues for Pierce County until further notice.
"We are lifting the burn bans in King and Snohomish counties because winds are picking up and temperatures are warming," said Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, agency forecaster. "But Pierce County is still under the influence of cold and calm conditions, which could cause pollution to build up in areas where wood-burning is common. We need to keep a Stage 1 burn ban in effect to protect air quality in those communities.
"We encourage everyone who doesn't rely on wood heat to use instead their home's cleaner source of heat until weather conditions change."
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.
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.
• 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).
The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation.