Reno, Sparks, Nev. Nov. 21, 2022 – The Washoe County Health District – Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) has issued a Yellow Burn Code, which discourages residents from using a wood-burning device temporarily until air pollution in our area decreases.
Residents with a fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove or other wood-burning device are asked to reduce or stop use of the device for at least 24 hours. The burn code is updated at 3 p.m. PST every day and you can check it on our website at OurCleanAir.com, on our Twitter page here, or on the weather segment of your local news broadcast.
The 24-hour rolling average for the Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM2.5, which are tiny particles that when accumulate reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy, is at 79 and in the “moderate” stage. With a lack of wind expected and cold temperatures overnight, the air quality could get worse and reach the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” stage.
To prevent that, the AQMD is asking residents to limit wood burning unless the wood-burning device is a primary source of heat for the home. Households where the wood-burning device is a primary source of heat can receive an exemption through AQMD (call 775-784-7200 for more information).
The “Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code” program applies to specific ZIP codes from Washoe Valley extending up to, and including, Silver Knolls. The code addresses all solid fuels including wood, pellets and fire logs. Burning coal and garbage is prohibited.
Wood burning in fireplaces and wood stoves during winter months accounts for around 40 percent of wintertime fine particulate matter in the Truckee Meadows. The harmful emissions can end up in lungs and pass into the blood stream causing both respiratory and cardiovascular health problems. Long term exposure to wood smoke can lead to decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, premature death in people with heart or lung disease and increased susceptibility to heart and vascular disease for postmenopausal women.
AQMD implements clean air solutions that protect the quality of life for the citizens of Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through community partnerships along with programs and services such as air monitoring, permitting and compliance, planning, and public education. The AQMD is delegated authority to implement the Clean Air Act (CAA) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of the delegation, the AQMD must have regulations in place that demonstrate how the division plans to maintain the health based National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.