Increased fireplace use during power outage impacts air quality
January 20, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 4:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 2012
The air in Issaquah is thick with woodsmoke Friday as residents light up fireplaces for warmth amid a regional power outage.
The agency responsible for monitoring air quality in the region, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, ranked the air quality in King County as moderate Friday.
The ranking means air quality is acceptable, but for some pollutants a moderate health concern exists. The health concern impacts people sensitive to air pollution — small children, senior citizens and people suffering from chronic health conditions.
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.
Amy Warren, a Puget Sound Clean Air Agency spokeswoman, said woodsmoke and other pollutants in the air can also affect people in good health as they exert themselves to clean up downed trees or other debris from the recent snow and ice storms.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency officials put a burn ban in place last week, but lifted the order Jan. 14. The possibility of another burn ban in the days ahead is unlikely.
“Given that so many people are without power and relying on stoves or fireplaces for such an immediate need, we wouldn’t call a burn ban in that situation,” Warren said.