Answers About Winter Air Quality

What’s New with Pierce County Air Quality?

As winter sets in it’s worth remembering that much of Pierce County continues to have an air quality problem during colder months. During the winter, fine particle pollution in much of Pierce County reaches unhealthy levels, causing lung and heart problems for children, seniors, and those with respiratory issues. Although these fine particles come from many sources, wood smoke from residential home heating is the biggest source of this pollution. These pollution levels continue to be high enough that they violate the Federal Clean Air Act. Since 2009, an area called a Smoke Reduction Zone was designated for a large portion of Pierce County, and specific pollution reduction programs have been implemented to improve air quality in our neck of the woods.

Here’s an important update to this program: Starting in September 2015 all old, uncertified wood burning devices will be illegal to use under state law. This means that these uncertified devices must be disposed of or rendered inoperable by September 30, 2015 in the Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone, except those residences that have no other adequate ways to heat their home.

What’s Being Done Now?

Air quality Burn Bans are actively enforced in the Smoke Reduction Zone. These burn bans are different from summer outdoor burning bans and apply to both indoor wood burning and any outdoor burning. Burning wood during a ban may result in a fine of up to $1,000, so it’s wise to pay attention to burn bans to avoid fines.

Along with increased burn ban enforcement, funding will continue to be available to help people change to a cleaner source of heat. Approximately $2.5 million is now available to help residents scrap or replace their old, uncertified wood stoves with a cleaner source of heat and get paid to do it!

How You Can Help

Visit www.airsafepiercecounty.org to learn how you can help:

  • Sign up for burn ban alerts via text or email. Sign up by texting “pierceburn” to 313131.

Receive email alerts by going to the website listed above

  • Apply for the Wood Stove Program – get $350 to scrap your stove or $1500 to replace it. Low income qualified households can get a free upgrade to a cleaner heating source.
  • Print information to share with your neighbors, friends and community organizations

Contact for more information:

Kit McGurn
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency