Department of Ecology News Release - October 3, 2011


Protect the air we breathe – don't burn outdoors

OLYMPIA – Leaves are falling. Other yard waste is waiting to be piled up.

But don’t give in to the temptation to burn vegetation outdoors. Remember, in most areas of Washington, residential outdoor burning is permanently banned to protect people from breathing harmful smoke and to prevent fires from spreading out of control. And it’s illegal everywhere in Washington to burn garbage and use burn barrels.

Residential outdoor burning is no longer allowed in most cities and all urban growth areas. If you live in a rural area outside of an urban growth area, or you are unsure if you do, always check with your local fire district before burning. You also should check with the local regional office of the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) or the local clean air authority for burn permit requirements.

Wherever you live, it’s better for the air we all breathe to choose alternatives to burning – like chipping, home composting or hauling to a composting facility.

Much like cigarette smoke, the smoke from burning leaves, grass, brush, and tree needles can cause asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Poor air quality most harms children, the elderly and people with breathing problems.

When left unattended, yard waste fires can spread out of control, damage property and threaten people. Responding to such fires drains the resources of fire agencies and can result in penalties against whoever is responsible for the blaze.

Ecology’s “Be the Difference, Breathe the Difference” campaign aims to help people learn how to manage yard waste, tree trimmings and land-clearing debris. Go to the Air Quality Program’s website to find:

In Washington, Ecology’s smoke management program oversees burning on agricultural lands. The Washington Department of Natural Resources oversees forest burning.


Media Contact: Seth Preston, Ecology communications manager, 360-407-6848; 360-584-5744 (cell); 

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