Let’s clear the air

In the wintertime, Pierce County residents may be breathing unhealthy levels of fine particle matter. Fine particles are made up of soot, dust, and smoke and come from a variety of sources, but wood smoke is the major source of fine particulate matter during the winter. Fine particles negatively affect both our respiratory and circulatory systems and have been linked to respiratory disease, decreased heart and lung function, and asthma. Fine particulate matter is a serious health problem for everyone – especially our senior population.

Simple steps can improve air quality. If you have a wood burning device in your home check before you burn – Call toll-free at 1 (800) 595-4341 or visit www.cleanairpiercecounty.org to see if a burn ban is in effect. Burn bans often occur on our clearest winter days when there is an air inversion resulting in stagnant or little movement of the air.

Check your chimney for smoke. Generating excess chimney smoke is not only un-neighborly–it’s illegal and can result in hefty fines.

Burn cleaner–Use only dry wood that has been seasoned for one year. Seasoned wood burns cleaner and produces less smoke.

Use cleaner ways to heat.  Consider switching out your wood stove for a non-wood heating device or pellet stove. To sign up for future wood stove change-out programs please visit: www.pscleanair.org (Click Agency Programs, then Community Initiatives, and on the Wood Stove Replacement Program page select New Applications).

Learn more, stay Informed.  Tell your family and friends. To learn more, please visit www.cleanairpiercecounty.org to sign up for updates or call Kathy Ross at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at (253) 798-7369.  Kathy can answer your questions about burn bans, how to burn cleanly, general air quality questions, or can arrange to have a presentation to your group on wood smoke.