Department of Ecology News Release - February 5, 2013


Ecology ends burn bans in Okanogan County

OLYMPIA – Effective 10 a.m. Feb. 5, 2013, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will end the Stage 1 burn ban in Okanogan County.

The ban took effect last Friday, Feb. 1. A Stage 1 ban prohibits use of uncertified wood-burning devices, including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces, and all outdoor burning.

These activities may resume now. However, local residents should think twice because smoke caused by burning easily builds up at this time of year, when stagnant air conditions can trap smoke close to the ground.

Fine particles in smoke are so small they can easily get into your lungs. Once there, they can cause heart and breathing problems, and even death. Children, people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, and adults older than 65 are most at risk.

By limiting or avoiding burning, residents of Okanogan County can help prevent air quality from deteriorating to the point that burn bans are needed. And by following restrictions when burn bans are called, they can help limit the time period the bans are in effect.

Under a Stage 1 ban:

Burn ban violators are subject to civil penalties. You can report violators by calling Ecology's smoke complaint hotline (1-866-211-6284).

A 2009 Ecology analysis estimates that fine particles contribute to about 1,100 deaths and about $190 million in health-care costs each year in Washington.

For burn ban updates:

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 adults over age 65.

Ecology recommends that people limit vehicle trips, combine errands or use public transportation to reduce air pollution.

You can track air quality in your area by using the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA). This is Ecology's tool for informing people about the health effects of air pollution, including fine particles. It uses color-coded categories to show when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy.

For more information about WAQA, see this Ecology fact sheet.


Media Contact: Kim Schmanke, Ecology Communications, 360-407-6034

For more information:

List of certified wood stoves and other information (

Tips on getting the most heat from your firewood (

Check for Ecology burn bans (

Washington Air Quality Advisory (

WAQA fact sheet (

Ecology analysis of fine particles and health (

Ecology’s social media (