Washington County joins Multnomah County in wood-burning bans
An air quality advisory that the state has issued for the Portland area has triggered wood-burning restrictions in Multnomah and Washington counties.
The advisory by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is expected to last through Friday. Advisories are issued when air conditions trap smoke near the ground, generally below 1,500 feet. The smoke contains particles small enough to lodge in the lungs and cause illnesses.
Multnomah County announced its restrictions Tuesday, Dec. 3. Residents are barred from using fireplaces, and wood stoves and pellet stoves that do not comply with clean-air standards, generally those made before 1988. The ban is in effect through Friday.
Washington County announced its restrictions Thursday. Residents of areas outside cities, plus residents of Hillsboro and Cornelius, are barred from using their wood stoves, wood stove inserts and fireplaces through noon on Friday. The ban couldd be lifted or extended, depending on weather.
There are exceptions for residents if wood is their only source for heating, or if they qualify as low income and must burn wood for financial reasons.
The county adopted an ordinance in 2015 empowering it to impose a ban on "red days," and the two cities followed suit.
The county Health and Human Services Department urges all residents to refrain from burning, even if they do not live in areas directly affected by the bans.
"Some people, especially children, older adults, and individuals with lung or heart disease, are more sensitive to air pollution," says Dr. Christina Baumann, deputy health officer for the county. "By not adding to the problem, we can help protect the health of our community."
Clackamas County has no specific county restrictions on wood-burning.
According to DEQ, the air quality index at the Southeast Lafayette station in Portland was 121, rated unhealthy for sensitive groups. At Hillsboro's Hare Field, it was 95, just shy of the unhealthy marks. Farther south in the Willamette Valley, the index numbers in Salem and Eugene were 85.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.