Avoid unnecessary burning
April 2, 2020 – During the COVID-19 crisis, local fire departments and first responders are doing everything they can to protect their own health so that they are ready to protect others. Many people in Washington communities are also extremely concerned about their respiratory health. So before starting an outdoor burn of any type, please consider the potential impacts on your neighbors and on local emergency responders, and postpone or cancel your burn if possible.
For information on alternatives to burning, visit ecology.wa.gov/burningalternatives. To report an illegal burn or unhealthy smoke, call 1-866-211-6284 or visit ecology.wa.gov/reportburning.
Smoke from burning pollutes the air and can cause serious health problems. Air pollution control in Washington is based on federal, state, and local laws and rules. We implement and enforce regulations for outdoor burning and wood stoves. In counties where there is no local clean air agency, we call air quality burn bans when needed.
Managing smoke and fire to protect people
We are able to keep air pollution from reaching harmful levels by issuing agricultural burning permits, setting standards for wood stoves, and calling burn bans. We work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local clean air agencies to develop guidelines, regulations, and educational materials aimed at protecting public health.
Health impacts of smoke
Air pollution from smoke can cause serious health problems. Much like cigarette smoke, the smoke from burning leaves, grass, brush, and tree needles can cause asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems are most harmed by poor air quality. You can check air quality conditions on the Washington Air Monitoring Network and follow the Washington Air Quality Guidelines (WAQA) guidelines to protect your health.