Air Quality

Kittitas County air quality
Monitor located on Hal Holmes Center, Ellensburg
Kittitas County air quality winter

Burn Ban Stages

Stage 1

No outdoor burning
No Uncertified wood heating devices allowed.*

Stage 2

No indoor or outdoor burning allowed.*

*Unless it is the home's only heat source.

Kittitas County lies along the East slopes of the Cascades. The geography of the county results in long periods of high pressure and air inversions during the winter months when wood stoves are commonly used for heating. During this time, pollution released into the air stays in the lower atmosphere until changing conditions clean out the valley. Air quality data from Ecology indicate Ellensburg has one of the highest levels of PM2.5 in Washington State during winter home-heating season. Ellensburg has been identified by Ecology and the State legislature as a vulnerable community for PM2.5 Over the past few years, fine particle air pollution in the Ellensburg area has reached unhealthy levels several times. This is a concern not only for health reasons, but also because higher levels of fine particles could cause the Ellensburg area to violate the federal health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Issues

Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) has evaluated air monitoring data from Department of Ecology's real time air monitoring station in Ellensburg, Washington since 1999 as an environmental health indicator. In the 2012 Kittitas County Community Health Assessment, poor air quality was identified as an area of concern by a group of key community partners. In this assessment, it was also noted that Kittitas County has a significantly higher mortality rate for influenza and pneumonia compared to Washington State as a whole. This may be one of many factors related to poor air quality.

Ecology approached KCPHD in late 2013 asking if they were interested in acting as the lead for a community effort using State funding to reduce PM2.5 in Ellensburg. Efforts to reduce air pollution now could avoid violating the NAAQS in the future. Kittitas County Public Health Department convened an advisory committee to assist with the Air Quality Project. Information related to the Kittitas County Air Quality Advisory Committee can be found within this link.

Using grant funding provided by Ecology in 2014, KCPHD conducted a community survey to learn how to best approach this community successfully to alter burning behaviors and reduce PM2.5. The results from the Kittitas County survey will be used to build an educational campaign followed by an additional community survey.

Kittitas County Public Health partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and joined the PM Advance program in August of 2016. The PM Advance program encourages communities to take proactive steps to improve air quality and avoid violation of federal health based standards. As part of this program, the Kittitas County Air Quality Advisory Committee and KCPHD are creating a sustainable 5-year Action Plan which includes voluntary efforts to limit harmful emissions.

Efforts to reduce PM2.5 County wide will benefit all of the communities of Kittitas County.

PM Advance Program

Available Information

Information on outdoor burning

Useful links

Questions, Comments, Want to Help?

For questions contact Kittitas County Public Health Department at (509) 962-7515 or environmentalhealth@co.kittitas.wa.us

Air quality complaints should be directed to Ecology's Smoke Management Team (509)575-2490