For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.276.1021
Wood burning in fireplaces and woodstoves affects the air quality in Washoe County particularly in autumn and winter months. That’s why every year beginning November 1, and continuing through February 28, the Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) uses the Keep It Clean – Know the Code - Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code Program to inform area residents whether or not lighting stoves or fireplaces is allowed, or is advisable. County residents can go on line to www.OurCleanAir.com or call (775) 785-4110 to get daily burn code status.
“Wood burning in fireplaces and woodstoves during the winter months accounts for nearly 50 percent of wintertime fine particulate matter in the Truckee Meadows, so we need to make sure everyone knows when to burn to keep our wintertime air safe and healthy,” says Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “The harmful emissions which end up in our lungs can pass into our bloods system causing both respiratory and cardiovascular health problems.” The Know the Code – Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code program applies to southern Washoe County from Washoe Valley to Cold Springs. The code addresses all solid fuels including wood, pellets, and fire logs. Burning coal and garbage is prohibited.
The Burn Code provides the following information to the community through postings on FaceBook, and on the www.OurCleanAir.com website using these colorful Know the Code Burn Code Icons:
Green - When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the Good or low Moderate range, the Burn Code is Green and that means it is okay to light a fire in your stove or fireplace.
Yellow - When the AQI reaches the upper end of the Moderate range, or if weather conditions exist that are expected to lead to deteriorating air quality, the Burn Code switches to Yellow. This is a voluntary stage when citizens are requested to stop burning. “While the Yellow Code is voluntary, cooperating to curtail wood burning at this point may be the most important action one can take to help our community avoid reaching unhealthful levels of air pollution,” said Dick.
Red - When the AQI becomes unhealthful for sensitive groups (exceeds 100), all residential and commercial burning must stop immediately. If weather forecasts show little chance of the temperature inversion lifting, the District Health Officer will call a Stage 1 Episode prohibiting burning for 24 hours, or until weather patterns change and the pollution levels decrease.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to Know the Code BEFORE they light their stoves or fireplaces,” said Dick. “And, it’s easy enough to do by going on line to www.OurCleanAir.com or by calling the Air Quality Hotline at (775) 785-4110.” Washoe County residents can also get a daily air quality update by listening to television and radio weather forecasts, or by checking the Reno-Gazette Journal's weather page. The 2016-17 burning season had 109 Green, 10 Yellow, and 1 Red Burn code days.
For more information on the Keep it Clean - Know the Code - Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code Program such as the health risks associated with breathing fine particulate matter like wood smoke, and how the Burn Code is enforced, visit the AQMD website at www.OurCleanAir.com