EUGENE, Ore. — As the cold weather continues in the Willamette Valley, adding more wood to your fireplace or heater might not be the best idea. That’s because the valley is under a yellow home wood heat advisory and has been since this weekend.
Smoke is a common sight billowing out of chimneys as residents battle the cold. But you might be surprised to learn when you light those logs you could actually be polluting the air.
“You will see a haze in the areas most impacted by wood smoke,” said Sally Markos, Lane Rural Air Protection Agency Public Information and Education Outreach.
Throughout the year, factories will contribute most to this type of pollution, but during the wintertime the blame is placed more on homeowners.
“Typically you find it’s a lot of wood smoke,” said Derek Bowen, LRAPA Field Technician.
Bowen tests the air for LRAPA to help decide whether these warnings should be issued.
“As the cold airfalls to the ground, it traps all the pollutants lower down where people are at,” Bowen said.
So if your only source of heat is a fireplace or wood burning stove–there are some simple changes to help clean up the air.
“Burn only very clean, dry seasoned wood. Second, keep stove dampers open so you get a lot of oxygen to the fire to burn a smaller, hotter fire,” Markos said.
Scientists are carefullly testing the air supply to track this pollution
“So during the days it typically goes a little lower than it was at night. Overnight has been a little high,” Bowen said.
They say the best way to cut down on the pollution overnight is to put the fire out and start a new one in the morning.
If you’re having a hard time breathing and have a pre-existing condition like asthma, the best way to get through this would be to take a break from those outdoor activities.