Air Quality at risk from stagnant 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 foggy mornings tend to prompt more use of woodstoves.

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 VOLUNTARILYCURTAIL all outdoor burning in all counties unless absolutely necessary.

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 curtail their use of wood stoves for home heating. In short, curbing outdoor burning now will mean residents can continue to use their wood stoves to stay warm and safe.

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.

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 options, though other alternatives to burning are also available. You can find more details on the options at or by calling your local waste disposal company.

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


Media Contact

Dan Nelson

Communications/Outreach Manager