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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 30, 2009

Swap burn barrel for composter
Breathe Easier…Feel Safer: Alternatives to outdoor burning reduce risk of wildfire ignitions and air pollution

OLYMPIA – Wildfire Awareness Week (May 3-9) is a reminder that we live in a fire-prone environment. This year, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency are joining together in an effort to reduce the number of wildfires and prevent health problems from outdoor burning. Although using burn barrels is illegal in Washington, the agencies are planning to distribute free composters to citizens who turn in their burn barrels.

Information about exchanging a burn barrel for a composter will be posted soon on the Department of Ecology’s webpage at www.ecy.wa.gov/breathethedifference  and the website of the Olympic Region Clean Air Authority www.orcaa.org , or contact Sandra Williams at 360-902-1114, or ORCAA at 360-586-1044. Quantities are limited.

Outdoor burning is a leading cause for wildfire ignitions across Washington. “These preventable ignitions, all too often, place unsuspecting homeowners and their property at risk,” said Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. “I urge citizens to take advantage of this great offer.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center indicates cooler than normal temperatures in the Northwest this spring (April through June). “Don’t be caught off guard by cooler weather,” warns Commissioner Goldmark. “Sparks from fire can be lofted downwind a distance for a mile or more and set trees, grasses and roofs on fire.”

For steps on how to reduce the risk of damage to homes and property, go to www.firewise.org/ .

Health related concerns
Smoke from outdoor burning pollutes the air, causing serious health problems. Much like cigarette smoke, the smoke from burning leaves, grass, brush, and tree needles can cause asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems are most harmed by poor air quality. Burning also pollutes our water and soil. Smoke particles fall into our water and on our soil.

“Breathing smoke is harmful to everyone, even healthy people. We encourage people to reuse yard waste by composting or chipping it, instead of burning it. Outdoor burning is illegal in most parts of Washington, and the use of burn barrels is illegal statewide,” said Julie Oliver, Environmental Planner, Department of Ecology’s Air Quality Program.

To report or comment on illegal outdoor burning or smoke pollution, call Ecology’s toll-free line at 1-866-211-6284. For information on what to do with yard waste, go to: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/outdoor_woodsmoke/alternativestoburn.htm .

Media Contacts:  Janet Pearce, DNR Communications 360-902-1122; Sandra Williams, DNR, 360-902-1114; Dan Nelson, Olympic Region Clear Air Agency, 360-586-1044; Julie Oliver, Department of Ecology, 360-407-6839; Seth Preston, Department of Ecology, 360-407-6848.


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 Contacts

DNR Communications & Outreach Office
360-902-1016
dnrnews@dnr.wa.gov

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