Smoke health effects & burning alternatives

Smoke from outdoor burning, wildfires, and the use of wood stoves contributes to poor air quality that can harm your health. Consider other methods of home heating and yard waste disposal.

Who is at most risk Symptoms & how to get relief How to protect yourself How to protect pets and livestock Resources for schools and employers

Smoke is harmful to your health

Smoke is made up of gases and particulate matter that can be dangerous when inhaled. When temperature inversions occur, this smoke can be trapped close to the ground. Visit Washington's air monitoring network to see if air quality is healthy in your area.

Smoke can irritate your eyes and worsen chronic heart and lung disease. The amount and length of smoke exposure, as well as a person's age and degree of susceptibility, play a role in determining if someone will experience smoke-related health problems. If you are experiencing serious symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Read more about how wood smoke harms your health.
A representation of the size of particulate air pollution compared to a human hair and a grain of sand, showing that this form of pollution is smaller than either.

Particulate matter from smoke is easily inhaled because it is smaller than a human hair.

Burning alternatives

When air pollution from wood smoke threatens public health, Ecology or local clean air agencies issue air quality burn bans.

People in homes that burn wood for heat have more respiratory problems. To protect your health, consider switching to natural gas or electric for home heating, or make sure you are using a Washington-certified wood burning device. 

Follow the tips below to dispose of yard waste without burning and contributing to air pollution.

Alternatives to burning yard waste What else you can do