Clean Air Month - Part 2

Pike Place Market in Seattle

Ways to protect the air

Today, we’re continuing our blog conversations that celebrate clean air — and sharing practical ways we all can do protect and improve the air. Last time, we looked at just what is part of the Clean Air Act. In this blog, we'll consider how wood burning, household chemicals and buying products made locally impact air quality.

Buy local

The less time products spend on a ship, train, or truck the less air pollution is created.

keep it local logo. Says Keep it local in the center, surrounding arrows say jobs, business, community
Consider ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and reconsider where your items originate from. Buying local also supports small businesses and creates jobs. Everyone wins when you buy local!

Use an adequate wood burning device

During winter there's often stagnant air that traps smoke near the ground. Heating your home with a wood burning device can increase your family’s health risk of lung and breathing problems. Wood burning devices include:

  • Wood and pellet stoves
  • Wood furnaces
  • Manufactured fireplaces
  • Masonry heaters

Only certified wood burning devices are legal to purchase, sell, or give away in this state, whether new or used. Your stove must meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Washington standards. If it doesn’t, check with your local air authority for grant programs to help replace your old stove, or better yet, switch to electric heat! Many electric companies offer grants to help convert your house to electric heat.

Burn wood the right way

You should only burn dry wood that has been split, stacked, and stored for at least a year. Dry wood emits less smoke and makes a hotter fire. You should be able to easily see through the smoke coming from your chimney. If you buy wood, ask if it has been properly seasoned. Properly dried and aged wood burns more efficiently and saves you money. 

Only burn vegetation

Never burn anything other than vegetation. Check for burn bans before you start a fire and keep something nearby to extinguish it. For campfires, be sure to put them out completely and never leave them unattended. Almost everybody loves a good fire, but the smoke shouldn’t annoy your neighbor.

Burn barrels, construction debris, garbage, and scraps from another property are illegal to burn everywhere in Washington. 

Reconsider burning altogether

There are many alternatives to burning yard waste. When mowing, leave grass clippings where they land. They provide nutrients for your lawn. Start making your own garden compost, or check with your community for free yard waste drop off days. The less you burn, the cleaner the air.

Dispose of chemicals responsibly

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) contribute to ground-level ozone formation because they evaporate into the air. Check with your local landfill or visit Ecology’s website to find a proper disposal facility. 

Some common VOCs to look out for are:

  • Acetone (nail polish remover, furniture polish, wallpaper)
  • Benzene (glue, paint, carpet, gasoline emissions)
  • Butanal (barbeque emissions, burning candles, stoves, cigarettes)
  • Carbon disulfide (chlorinated tap water)
  • Dichlorobenzene (mothballs, deodorizers)
  • Ethanol (glass cleaners, dishwasher and laundry detergents)
  • Formaldehyde (floor lacquers, some molded plastics)
  • Terpene (fragrances such as soap and detergents)
  • Toluene (paint)
  • Xylene (traffic emissions, idling cars)

In our next blog we’ll address how all these activities influence climate change and how clean energy industries and vehicle choices have an impact on clean air.