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Burn Code Season Begins

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From the Washoe County Health District:

Beginning November 1, and continuing through February 28, the Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) uses Keep It Clean – Know the Code, a color-coded Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code program to inform area residents whether or not lighting stoves or fireplaces is allowed, or advisable. The Know the Code Program applies to residents in Southern Washoe County from Washoe Valley to Silver Knolls. Residents in these areas can go on line to www.ourcleanair.com, use Twitter or Facebook, or call (775) 785-4110 to get the daily burn code status.

"Because we are breathing constantly, we really need to be conscientious about our air quality, especially during the colder months," says Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. "Nearly 50 percent of wintertime air pollution is due to fine particulate matter produced by wood burning in the Truckee Meadows. Those pollutants end up in our lungs and can pass into our blood system, causing both respiratory and cardiovascular health problems," Dick added.

The code addresses all solid fuels including wood, pellets, and fire logs. Burning coal and garbage is prohibited. According to Dick, new color-coded icons will help in providing fireplace and wood stove user's options. The Burn Code provides the following information:

Green - When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the Good or low Moderate range, the Burn Code is Green and that means it is okay to light a fire in your stove or fireplace.

Yellow - When the AQI reaches the upper end of the Moderate range, or if weather conditions exist that are expected to lead to deteriorating air quality, the Burn Code switches to Yellow. This is a voluntary stage when citizens are requested to stop burning. "While the Yellow Code is voluntary, cooperating to curtail wood burning at this point may be the most important action one can take to help our community avoid reaching unhealthful levels of air pollution," said Dick.

Red - When the AQI gets into the Unhealthful for Sensitive Groups range, all residential and commercial burning must stop immediately. If weather forecasts show little chance of the temperature inversion lifting, the District Health Officer will call a Stage 1 Episode prohibiting burning for 24 hours, or until weather patterns change and the pollution levels decrease.

"It's everyone's responsibility to Know the Code BEFORE they light their stoves or fireplaces. It's easy enough to do by going on line to www.ourcleanair.com, using Twitter or Facebook, or by calling the Air Quality Hotline at (775) 785-4110," Dick said. Washoe County residents can also get a daily air quality update by listening to television and radio weather forecasts. Burn codes will be updated by 9a.m. and 5p.m. on weekdays, and by 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Codes may be updated earlier on any day, if major air quality changes occur.

For more information on the Keep it Clean - Know the Code - Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code Program such as the health risks associated with breathing fine particulate matter like wood smoke, and how the Burn Code is enforced, visit the AQMD website at www.ourcleanair.com.

From the Washoe County Health District

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