Air pollution levels reach unsafe levels in Tacoma. Burn ban in effect

Air pollution reached unsafe levels in Tacoma Sunday night. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has issued a burn ban.
Air pollution reached unsafe levels in Tacoma Sunday night. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has issued a burn ban. TNS

Air pollution levels went over the EPA health-based standard in Tacoma Sunday night, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

A Stage One burn ban is in effect for most of Pierce County until further notice.

Calm weather is expected to continue in Pierce County, exacerbating the conditions leading to the ban.

“We expect to have pollution levels unhealthy for sensitive groups (Monday night) and into tomorrow, and possibly longer,” the air agency said in a release.

Burn bans reduce the amount of pollution created by wood smoke.

Residents should instead use their furnace or electric baseboard heaters until air quality improves. When the public health risk diminishes the ban will be canceled.

The air agency released these details:

▪  Pierce County residents on the “Pierce Peninsula” (Gig Harbor Fire #5, Key Peninsula #16, Anderson Island #27) and in “South Pierce” county (Roy Fire #17, Eatonville, Ashford #23) are not included in today’s burn ban. Check the Pierce County Burn Ban Area Map for more specific information.

▪  No burning is allowed in wood-burning fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves or fireplace inserts.

▪  The only exception is if the homeowner has a previously approved “No Other Adequate Source of Heat” exemption from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

▪  No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

▪  Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

▪  It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage One burn ban.

▪  The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).

Visit pscleanair.org/burnban to view the current burn ban status.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor