By Dylan Darling, The Register-Guard
Hoping to keep the air clear, air quality officials in Lane County may ban wood burning to heat homes this weekend in Eugene-Springfield and Oakridge. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency warns of potentially unhealthy air quality over the weekend in the metro area and Oakridge, with inversions causing stagnant air. During an inversion, warm air creates a lid over cold air, keeping it — and polluted air — close to the ground.
The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency warns of potentially unhealthy air quality over the weekend in the metro area and Oakridge, with inversions causing stagnant air. During an inversion, warm air creates a lid over cold air, keeping it — and polluted air — close to the ground. Depending on how polluted the air becomes LRAPA may issue a “red” advisory, completely banning wood smoke unless residents have an exemption.
“We just want people to have some warning about the possibility of a smoke ban and hopefully that encourages people to burn extra clean to keep the (pollution) levels lower,” said Jo Niehaus, LRAPA spokeswoman. The agency last banned wood burning in January 2016 in Eugene-Springfield and last February in Oakridge.
The agency issues daily advisories for the metro area and Oakridge. Residents of the three cities who meet low-income eligibility requirements may qualify for exemptions from a burning ban.
The annual income limits are $32,500 for an individual and $46,400 for a family of four, according to LRAPA. Eugene, Springfield and Oakridge city ordinances require anyone heating with wood stoves or fireplaces to burn clean by using seasoned, dry wood. City ordinances still apply to residences with exemptions, and the agency uses smoke density to determine how clean anyone is burning.
Niehaus said Saturday would likely be the day with the worst air quality.
A weak inversion already was in place Thursday in the southern Willamette Valley, said Jon Bonk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. He expected it to strengthen by the weekend and continue until Tuesday, when a storm may roll in from the Pacific Ocean and wash out the polluted air. The forecast for early next week may change though.
“There’s a lot that is still up in the air,” he said.