Bad air leads to burn ban

1:20 pm November 29th, 2012

Due to stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency announced Monday that it was continuing a Stage 1 burn ban for Pierce County. until further notice.
The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air usually due to excessive wood smoke. Clean Air Agency said they would continue to closely monitor the situation this week before deciding when the ban can be lifted.
A high-pressure weather system was expected to bring mostly calm conditions through Tuesday. “We’ll see especially low wind speeds in Pierce County, which means fog and a buildup of air pollution,” an agency spokesman said Monday.
A system was expected to arrive late Tuesday or early Wednesday to ventilate the region again.
Burn ban enforcement has significantly increased in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone. Wood-burning during a ban may result in a fine, with fines that in the past have reached $1,000. Increased enforcement and night patrols will increase the likelihood of violators receiving substantial fines this season, agency officials said.
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. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.
• 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’s alright to use natural gas, propane, pellet and Environmental Protection Agency-certified wood stoves or inserts.
The state Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit their 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 the age of 65, according to health officials.

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