Wood Burning and Air Quality Rules

During the fall and winter, Washington County sees a rise in pollution caused by wood smoke from home heating. Our air must meet federal standards created by the Clean Air Act. If we don’t meet these standards, Washington County can face several issues:

  • Health impacts: Pollution from wood smoke can pose serious health impacts.
  • Economic impacts: Limitations can be placed on the operations and growth of large businesses in the county.

Help Reduce Wood Smoke

Heat your home with cleaner heat sources like an electric or ductless heath pump, gas stove or insert, gas furnace, or an EPA certified pellet stove or insert. Visit the Wood Stove Exchange program for more information.

Make your home warmer by adding insulation and sealing drafts around doors and windows. Visit Community Action's website for information on their weatherization program.

Burn only dry split and well-seasoned wood. For more tips on burning cleaner, visit the EPA’s burn-wise program.

If You Burn Wood

Bookmark this page to check air quality status (November 1 through March 1) before you burn or call the Air Quality Status Line at 503-846-8744.

Sign up for Public Alerts to receive a text, email or phone call when a “red day alert” is issued for poor air quality. Be sure to check "Red Day Alerts" under Additional Notifications.

Follow Washington County Health and Human Services and Washington County, Oregon on social media channels, and watch local news media.

Air Quality Rules

To help address wood smoke pollution in Washington County, the Board of Commissioners adopted rules to raise awareness of wood smoke as a health issue and prevent unnecessary burning when the air quality is poor.

The rules prohibit year-round outdoor burning of yard debris in unincorporated areas of Washington County that are also within the Metropolitan Service District Boundary.

From November 1 to March 1, Washington County can issue air quality alerts that apply to anyone who lives in unincorporated Washington County. The cities of Hillsboro and Cornelius have adopted similar ordinances, so the following color-coded system applies to those residents as well.

A red day alert means that air quality is unhealthy and that no fireplace or wood stove use is allowed, unless exempt (see below).

A yellow day means air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and we ask that people consider their neighbors before burning.

A green day means that air quality is healthy.

Exemptions to Burning Restrictions

  • Households that rely on wood burning as their only source of heat.
  • Households that qualify as low-income (see Q&A document below).
  • When there is an interruption in utility service (electricity or natural gas).
  • When a household's primary heating system is temporarily not working (no more than 120 days).
  • The ordinance does not restrict the use of pellet stoves.
  • The ordinance does not restrict burning between March 2 and October 31.

Wood Burning Complaints

You can file a complaint for residential burning of yard debris or the use of a fireplace, wood stove or wood stove insert during a “red day alert” issued by the county.


Additional Information and Forms

Wood Smoke and Air Quality Ordinance Fact Sheet (English/Spanish)
Wood Smoke Ordinance Q&A