Air Quality at risk from cold weather: Residents Asked to Reduce Burning

 This week, our Western Washington weather turned cold, with mostly clear skies and little wind to clear the air. Cold nights and icy 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 VOLUNTARILY CURTAIL all outdoor burning and to refrain from using wood stoves and fireplaces in all counties (Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston counties) 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.

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 may find alternatives to Outdoor Burn here.

Also please keep in mind that burning trash is ILLEGAL at all times throughout Washington.

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The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency protects and enhances air quality for citizens in Thurston, Mason, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Pacific counties by enforcing federal, state and local air quality regulations. If you have general questions about air quality, contact ORCAA at (360) 539-7610 or 1-800-422-5623, or visit ORCAA’s Web site,



Media Contact

Dan Nelson

Communications/Outreach Manager