Monday, September 25, 2023

Residential wood smoke from home-heating on the rise

It's gotten cold out there!  Autumn is finally here and with that comes cooler weather and the need to heat homes.  Residential wood smoke from home-heating should be expected, especially at night and in the mornings when woodstoves and other wood-burning devices are regularly used.  Temperature inversions and light winds can cause smoke to stagnate, especially in valley communities.  This blog is intended to focus on wildfire smoke, but forecasts will be issued by Local Clean Air Agencies on their own sites and on AirNow.  As the season progresses, the National Weather Service may issue Air Stagnation Advisories and clean air agencies may initiate air quality burn-bans posted on their web pages, though we usually don't see those until November. 


  1. I live in a part of Kitsap County where my neighbors use their wood burning stoves often in the cold months, and the smoke gets into my yard and home. It can be so strong at times and we have a small child, so I worry. I tried to approach one of our neighbors about this issue, and I was met with hostility and denial. I reported them to some agency, but there seems to be no enforcement. What can we do to change laws and keep people safe? How can I get involved at the state or more local level? I can't find information or who to contact about this issue.

    1. Kitsap County is under Puget Sound Clean Air Agency jurisdiction. Their site suggests that if talking to your neighbor doesn't work, you should file a complaint ( ). It goes on to say "After you submit your complaint, an inspector will evaluate it for an appropriate response. For first time offenders, we send a letter notifying them that a complaint has been filed against them, as well as educational materials on clean burning techniques and the rules on indoor burning."

      Burning dry seasoned wood is legal, but burning trash is not. Their is also an opacity law ( ). So, if your neighbor is consistently burning trash or having issues with their stove combustion efficiency, reporting it regularly may help them change their behavior (since they might start getting fined). There are also wood-stove change-out grants available, to help people upgrade their old dirty stoves ( ).
      A concerted effort is often needed to convince residents to change their burning behavior. Communication, education, and funding assistance are key to this endeavor.

      Air quality agencies are not police, so their only avenue of enforcement is to issue fines to repeat offenders or call the fire department (e.g. for outdoor burners). Also keep in mind that depending on the number of complaints, inspectors can't go out to every home (There are 10 inspectors in PSCAA, and their primary duty is to inspect permitted facilities). Please reach out to PS Clean Air if you need more information.

    2. I have a lung disease and have had issues with our neighbors burning yard debris and wood. The smoke hurts my lungs and ability to function in many ways. Wildfires are just at bad. Why is one knowingly terrible for our health but the other is still acceptable for others to be around? They are both wood smoke and harmful.

    3. All smoke is bad for your health, so protecting yourself from smoke impacts is important regardless of the sources. Burning of yard waste is illegal in cities and urban growth areas. If your neighbor is unresponsive to requests, you can call 1-866-211-6284 to report them. See these two sites for more information:

  2. Thanks as always for your diligent and valuable work, and congratulations on 10 million page views for this blog.

  3. hello, why is the air quality moderate right now in seattle when there aren't any fires? thank you


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