Wood burning banned in MultCo on poor air quality days

Multnomah County

Illustration picture shows a campfire in Zwalm, Sunday 20 December 2020.
BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK (Photo by NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An annual ban on burning wood will start Thursday and last through the winter to March 1 on days where air quality is judged poor in Multnomah County.

During the poor air quality days, homeowners, renters and businesses are prohibited from burning wood outdoors, in fireplaces or wood-burning stoves.

There are exemptions, officials said, like for people who burn wood to heat their home or during times of emergency like a power outage. People with limited incomes may also be exempt from the ban. Those exemptions must be applied for with the county.

Officials said the smoke caused from wood burning can not only worsen air quality, but it can make it hard to breathe for residents with underlying health conditions. Smoke-filled air can also make symptoms of COVID-19 more severe.

Symptoms of smoke inhalation can mimic those of COVID-19, too, and even healthy people may feel the effects, health officials said.

“We’re all looking for those creature comforts, ways to feel comforted and cozy. A mug of hot chocolate, fluffy slippers or curling up under a blanket are great options this winter,” said Nadège Dubuisson, an air quality coordinator with the Multnomah County Health Department. “We’re asking people to consider alternatives to a wood fire, because adding smoke to the air, on any day, can make someone else’s day so much worse.”

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