Wood Smoke Pollutes Air Over Lane County

Jan 12, 2017

Wood smoke from fireplaces and stoves is contributing to elevated levels of air pollution in Oakridge and Eugene/Springfield. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) warns residents that a smoke ban could be triggered.

Wood smoke contains fine particles and toxics like benzene and formaldehyde. It’s LRAPA’s job to test the air and advise residents when air quality levels are poor.

This very smoky chimney in Lane County is violating the smoke opacity limits on a "yellow" advisory day.
Credit Lane Regional Air Protection Agency

LRAPA spokeswoman Jo Neihaus says the agency urges use of alternative heat sources but they understand many rely solely on wood burning for heat. Especially during electrical outages.

“But what we encourage people to do is to burn as clean as possible. Using dry wood and keeping your dampers open you’re getting a more thorough burn.”

Neihaus says air pollution levels have been rising in the past week, due to air inversions and a combination of wood smoke with cold temperatures. If this trend continues, LRAPA could ban wood burning.