Winter burning poses air quality health risks
December 13, 2011
Winter in the Pacific Northwest means stagnant air — a health risk for some people.
Conditions from November through March often cause stagnant air. Pollution from outdoor burning, wood stoves and fireplaces gets trapped and collects near the ground.
The air pollutants can be harmful for people suffering from heart disease, diabetes, asthma and lung diseases. Pollutants pose the most risk to children and older adults.
Officials imposed several burn bans across the state in recent weeks due to poor air quality. Smoke contains fine particles and toxic gases.
The state Department of Health urges people to check for bans at www.waburnbans.net. Health officials also recommend people check air quality at www.airwatchnw.org before heading out for outdoor activities. Learn more about how air quality affects health at www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/ts/outdoorair.htm.
“People with asthma and other breathing problems need to pay special attention to air quality, especially this time of year,” state Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes said in a statement. “Often, people with health conditions get sick sooner than healthy people when air quality is poor.”