Wood Smoke & COVID-19

According to the Center for Disease Control, wood smoke and risks associated with COVID-19 are related. If you have or are recovering from COVID-19, you may be at an increased risk of health effects from exposure to wood smoke due to COVID-19’s impact on heart and or lung function. In addition, exposure to wood smoke may make you more susceptible to respiratory infections likely including COVID-19.

In the Puget Sound region, sources of wood smoke include burning for home heat, recreational outdoor fires, and illegal burning of yard debris. Summertime wildfires also produce wood smoke pollution.

Fine particle pollution is the most harmful component of wood smoke. Most of our understanding of the potential health consequences of wood smoke exposure comes from years of research and studies on the health effects of fine particle pollution.

There are actions you can take during the colder fall and winter months (and year-round) to protect the health of yourself, your family, and your neighbors from the potentially harmful effects of neighborhood wood smoke.

Avoid burning. If you need to burn, burn smart:

  • It is the law to use best burn practices, including burning only dry, seasoned firewood (moisture content less than 20%), limiting smoke, and obeying burn bans. Review our Clean Burning Checklist.
  • Have your wood burning appliance and chimney inspected by a certified professional chimney sweep.
  • Avoid outdoor recreational burning.
  • Don’t burn yard debris. Compost, chip, haul it, or use curbside pickup instead.

Update Your Home:

  • If you have an old wood burning device, look into a cleaner, more efficient appliance (gas, heat pump, EPA-certified stove). Many gas and electric utilities offer rebates to help you save.
  • Scrap your old or uncertified wood-burning  stove or fireplace insert – you may qualify through our wood stove program.
  • Install an air cleaner or HVAC filter to help reduce airborne contaminants in a building or small space -- including viruses and the fine particles in wood smoke. You can also use a do-it-yourself filter fan.
  • If you qualify, find heating assistance programs to help you from having to heat with wood.
  • Weatherization can help lower your energy bills and reduce smoke from entering your home, consider taking steps to weatherize your home.
  • If you like to gather around a fire with friends or family in your yard, look at cleaner burning propane firepits or patio heaters.

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