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Burning and Air Pollution

Burning and Air Pollution

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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My concern about air pollution is this: I am afraid to burn in our wood burning stove right now during green air quality days because I see in the forecast a high pressure and more hazy and red air quality days coming. I am afraid that if I burn in our stove now, it will contribute to the pollution in the coming days, but I am not sure. I hear the reports say to go ahead and burn but I don't want to contribute to the pollution levels later on. Am I wrong, and it doesn't contribute to the problem because it is a green air day today? Thanks, Teresa


You are right to be concerned about putting pollutants into the air. On green days the Department of Environmental Quality is basically saying, go ahead and burn to heat your home using your stove. On any given day, the air is usually moving around. Meaning we have little disturbances from time to time and our jet stream is moving things overhead, the air is constantly mixing and moving downstream. So if you put something into the air, it will mix out. Is it good to keep adding junk into the air? NO! The more pollutants we put in the air, the worse our air or the air downstream becomes. But if you do have to burn, make sure you do burn on a green day. We're not saying using woodstoves is a bad idea, just to be wise about when you burn.

When the forecast calls for "increasing levels" of pollution, then you need to be careful. This can mean that high pressure will be moving in by X day in the forecast and anything you put into the air will get trapped in the valley.

You can burn on a green day but if you know that high pressure is coming and you want to help, then cut it off the day before. Woodstoves, industrial buildings and cars all contribute to our air quality woes, we all must do whatever we can to help out. Even if that's just consolidating your errrands into one trip in the car, that helps too!

When we hit those yellow days, it's a good idea to cut down on burning if you can find another way to stay warm. And as always, it's great on any day, no matter what the air, to find ways to drive less and carpool more.

Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.

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