Twenty below zero. That was the record breaking low in Klamath Falls Oregon this weekend. And the temperature has stayed below freezing. But county health officials are urging people in town not to fire up their woodstoves. The cold front is also creating a pollution problem.
Wood stoves and fireplaces are one of the leading causes of fine particulate pollution. And in Klamath Falls, a blanket of cold stagnant air has trapped that pollution close to the ground, triggering an air quality health alert. People who are burning wood in stoves or fireplaces face a warning and a fine of up $720. Jim Carey enforces the air quality rules in Klamath Falls. He says the county is making exceptions for families who need their stoves to stay warm.
Carey: “I know in some cases, their gas or electric heater just isn't doing the job, and it’s still cold in their house.”
Carey expects the wood stove ban to remain in place for several more days. Klamath Falls is one of a handful of cities in the Northwest that violates EPA health standards due to wood smoke pollution. Tacoma, Washington and Oakridge, Oregon are also on the list.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting