State offers alternatives to burning leaves and yard waste

November 1, 2011

By Staff

Fall means abundant fallen leaves and piles of other yard waste.

The state Department of Ecology is urging residents not to give in to the temptation to burn vegetation. In most areas, including Issaquah and rural King County, burning is regulated to protect people from breathing smoke and to prevent fires from spreading.

Smoke from burning leaves, grass, brush and tree needles can aggravate or contribute to asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and lung cancer. If left unattended, yard waste fires can spread out of control, damage property and threaten people.

Most cities and all urban growth areas do not allow residential outdoor burning. The state also bans burning garbage or using burn barrels across Washington.

Residents in rural areas should call local fire agencies before burning. People should also ask the regional Department of Ecology office or local clean air authority — the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in King County — for burn permit requirements.

The agency recommends chipping, home composting or hauling yard waste to a composting facility as alternatives to burning.

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