News Release

For release: Oct. 30, 2009

Larry Calkins, Air Quality Division, Hermiston, (541) 567-8297, ext. 225
Delbert Bell, Klamath County Health Department, Klamath Falls, (541) 883-5118
Marcia Danab, Communications & Outreach, Portland, (503) 229-6488

Call Before Burning Wood in Klamath Falls Area

Klamath County partners with DEQ to get the word out

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           The Klamath County Health Department urges everyone in the greater Klamath Falls area to call its air quality advisory number before burning wood. Call 541-882-BURN (541-882-2876) to find out if the advisory is green, yellow or red.  The information is also available on the Klamath County website at .


            By following the air quality advisories when air quality is poor, residents can help protect their health and their neighbors’ health from harmful smoke.


            The county is partnering with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to spread the word about this in several ways, including billboards in a couple of locations in Klamath Falls.  Look for the billboards beginning Nov. 9.


            DEQ is funding the billboards to support Klamath County in the county’s efforts to come into compliance with tighter federal air quality standards for tiny particulates from smoke, soot and dust. Most of the fine particle pollution comes from wood-burning stoves to heat homes.


            “Calling the advisory number and following the advisory is one way individuals can take an active part in protecting the health of their neighbors, especially the most vulnerable citizens,” said Klamath County Environmental Health Manager Delbert Bell.


            DEQ and Klamath County will post different air quality messages on billboards every month through May 2010. “It all adds up to cleaner air” is the theme of this project, which is part of a national campaign stressing the importance of individual actions to reduce air pollution.


            Wood smoke contains toxic and cancer-causing compounds and is harmful to the lungs. Some particles in wood smoke are so small that the body's natural defenses cannot keep them out of the lungs. These smoke particles can cause severe respiratory irritation or aggravate existing lung or heart problems. Older people, children and people with asthma are most at risk for health problems caused by wood smoke particles.


            A properly installed, correctly used wood-burning appliance should be smoke free. If smoke is seen or smelled, that means there may be a problem.


            The tip featured on this month’s billboard is “build small, hot fires.” A hot fire will heat the stove enough to burn wood completely, with less pollution.  For most woodstoves, a smoldering fire is not a safe or efficient fire.


            For more tips on how to use woodstoves more efficiently and prevent smoke, go to
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