In the interest of public health and safety, the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) asks that all residents VOLUNTARILY CURTAIL all outdoor burning in all counties (Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston).
This call to action is needed because the weekend’s cold, calm weather conditions means any smoke we put into the air around us, stays in the air around us. The result is rising levels of air pollution.
By limiting the amount of outdoor burning occurring, ORCAA hopes to avoid having to call an official burn ban during which residents would have to stop using woodstoves for home heating. In short, curbing outdoor burning now will mean residents can continue to use their woodstoves to stay warm and safe during the long holiday weekend.
We also ask that residents who do use woodstoves for home heating make sure they use their appliances in a clean, smoke-free manner. They should ONLY burn clean, dry firewood that has been well cured (i.e. cut, split, and stacked under cover for at least 9 months). They should also burn that wood in hot fires with lots of air flow. Dampering down smolders the fire, wasting wood and creating excessive smoke, which could also lead to burn bans.
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 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.
Rather than burning yard waste this week, 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 at www.orcaa.org or by calling your local waste disposal company.
Also please keep in mind that burning trash is ILLEGAL at all times throughout Washington.