Stage One burn bans have been issued in Snohomish and King Counties, Washington, US, in an attempt to avoid air quality worsening any further and to protect public health. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency issued the burn ban in an attempt to reduce air pollution. Pierce County in Washington is already subject to a Stage Two burn ban.
The Puget Sound region experienced a spike in the levels of fine particulate pollution that were measured on Saturday (November 23rd) night, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Levels of particulate air pollution were particularly high in areas where wood-burning for heat generation is very common.
Both Snohomish and King Counties are subject to the burn ban, which states that no burning of food is to take place in fireplaces. Burning on uncertified wood stoves and uncertified fireplace inserts is also prohibited. The agency is recommending that residents use their electric baseboard heaters or furnaces while the air quality of the area is improving over the next few days. The burn ban will be lifted once fine particulate air pollution has dissipated and is no longer a risk to public health.
If a residential property only has a wood stove to provide an adequate amount of heat, they are exempt from the ban. All outdoor fires are prohibited while the ban is in place, including campfires, pit fires and bonfires. Anyone that is found to be in violation will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 (£616).
While the fine particulate levels are high, the state’s Department of Health has recommended that any residents who are particularly sensitive to air pollution – such as those with respiratory problems – limit the amount of time that they spend outside. People that have problems with their hearts or lungs could experience problems while air quality is low and air pollution can trigger issues. Anyone with diabetes, older residents and children are also being recommended to remain indoors where possible.