Smoke from wood burning has prompted authorities to prohibit use of fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves and inserts and ban outdoor burning in Clark County until 5 p.m. Friday.
Residents who rely on wood as their only source of heat are exempt from the ban. The Southwest Clean Air Agency asks residents who must heat using wood to burn as cleanly as possible.
Colder nights followed by limited daytime ventilation and dispersion have caused fine-particle air pollution levels to rise toward the federal health-based standard.
Smoke levels are expected to reach what is classified as “unhealthy” throughout Southwest Washington. These conditions are expected to continue at least through Friday afternoon.
“We are hopeful that calling this Stage I burn ban will moderate ambient levels of fine-particulate matter until a more active weather system moves in,” Uri Papish, executive director of the Southwest Clean Air Agency, said in a statement. “We are not asking anyone to go without heat but to use an alternative source of heat, if possible, until weather patterns change and our air quality returns to healthy levels.”
Smoke inhalation can cause a range of health problems, including chest pain, fast heartbeat, coughing, stinging eyes, trouble breathing, irritated sinuses, headaches and asthma attacks.
Those particularly sensitive to fine-particle air pollution include children, older adults, pregnant women, people who have had strokes, and those with heart ailments or lung problems, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Officials recommend these people stay indoors when possible, limit outdoor running, bicycling, physical labor and sports, and avoid driving, if possible. If people from one of these groups must drive, they should keep the windows closed and make sure their vehicle recirculates air from inside, not outside. Schools and day care providers should consider postponing outdoor activities or moving them indoors.
N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect some people from air pollution. These masks are usually available at hardware and home repair stores. The Southwest Clean Air Agency recommends checking with your physician to see if wearing a mask is advised.
More information is available on the Southwest Clean Air Agency’s website: www.swcleanair.org.