June 27, 2022

The Multnomah County Health Department today issued a “Yellow” advisory asking people to avoid burning wood, starting at noon today, Monday June 27th. 

The Multnomah County Health Department issued this advisory due to high forecasted levels of air pollution, specifically ground level ozone. The advisory will be lifted when monitoring and forecasting data show improved conditions. 

The Department of Environmental Quality has also issued a smog/ozone advisory for the Portland and Salem metro areas. DEQ expects ozone pollution to reach levels this afternoon that could be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, people over 65, pregnant people and people with heart disease or respiratory conditions. 

Multnomah County wood burning advisories are issued by 11 a.m. and posted at multco.us/woodsmokestatus. Check back for updates. Residents should also check for burn bans from their local fire department.

This is the first warm weather burn advisory issued since the County Board adopted an ordinance expanding its wood smoke ordinance to year round in February 2022. The last wood smoke advisory was issued as a yellow day on April 15, 2022.  

With warmer temperatures, air quality issues become more common and visible. Ground-level ozone is a respiratory irritant formed when certain pollutants interact with the sun. It is the most persistent air pollutant problem during warmer months, with the exception of wildfire smoke.

This air can be unhealthy to breathe. Ozone can bring on asthma attacks and affect the health of sensitive individuals, including those with respiratory and heart issues, older adults, young children and people who are living or being active outdoors. 

“I think when most of us hear about smog, we think about places like Los Angeles or other really dense big cities,” said Nadège Dubuisson, an air quality specialist with the Multnomah County Health Department. “But that haze is very present here in the metro area, especially on hot days like today. We all want to be able to breathe clean air and that means reducing our most harmful emissions.” 

Multnomah County encourages you to skip the fire, love your lungs. When breathing in smoke, COVID-19 symptoms may worsen and recovery can be more difficult. People in good health can also feel health effects from wood smoke, and may interpret those to be symptoms of COVID-19. A dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing are common to both COVID-19 and smoke inhalation.

To help protect you, your family and our community, the Health Department asks that people voluntarily limit unnecessary burning until this advisory has been lifted. This includes the use of fireplaces, wood stoves, chimineas, and outdoor burning in firepits by businesses and households. This advisory does not apply to cooking. Exemptions are available.  

Protect your health. Reduce pollution

The key to reducing ozone is to reduce the emissions that create it.       

  • Skip the Fire. Avoid burning wood. Burning contributes to air pollution.
  • Limit or reschedule outside activities. Think about spending more time indoors, where ozone levels are usually lower. If you must be active outdoors, try to schedule activity prior to the noon hour or in the late evening when the air has cleared.
  • Skip the car ride. Combine errands and use public transit, bike, or walk. If you walk or bike, do so early in the morning or later in the evening. Do not idle vehicles or equipment. 
  • Postpone gas-powered mowing. Lawn and garden equipment is responsible for ozone-forming emissions. Postpone yard work that involves gas-powered equipment until air quality improves.
  • Check on friends, relatives and neighbors. Air pollution can be especially hard on the elderly, children, and people with respiratory problems such as asthma.

Stay Informed