We Have a Wintertime Air Pollution Problem

smokey sky over city and smoke coming from a house chimney

During fall and winter, Multnomah County sees a rise in pollution that comes from wood smoke. Wood smoke from home heating accounts for more than half of our fine particle pollution on the average winter day. These pollutants are harmful to human health.

Our air must meet federal standards for fine particle pollution under the Clean Air Act. Although we currently meet these standards, we are at risk for violating federal law if we have too many days of unhealthy air.

If we don’t clean up our air, we’ll face several issues:

  • Health impacts - The longer we wait to clean up our air, the longer we’ll all be breathing unhealthy levels of pollution. Health effects of wood smoke»
  • Economic impacts - Federal funding for transportation (highway) projects could be at risk. Public dollars would be needed to clean up our air.
  • Business impacts - Restrictions placed on large businesses located in Multnomah County, which may push jobs outside our community.

Winter Wood Burning Restrictions

From October 1 to March 1, you cannot use wood stoves, fireplaces or any outdoor wood burning device when the air quality is forecasted to be poor. During wood burning season, we will display the current burn status on this page.

Ways to Reduce Wood Smoke

Heat Your Home with a Cleaner Fuel

  • Use a cleaner heat source such as an electric heat pump, or a furnace that uses electricity, natural gas, propane or oil.
  • Check local air quality conditions before you burn, every time.
  • Remember, NEVER heat your home using a gas oven, kerosene heater, camping stove or BBQ. Using space heaters as your main heating source is also unsafe.

Replace Equipment

heat pump
Photo: David Dodge

Burn Cleaner

stacked wood

  • Burn only dry, split, well-seasoned wood. Properly seasoned wood is darker, weighs less, and sounds hollow when hit against another piece of wood.
  • Keep wood covered and off the ground. Store it at least 12 months before burning.
  • Build small, hot fires.
  • Never burn trash or construction debris such as treated wood, painted wood or particle board. They make toxic smoke and can damage your stove.

Weatherize Your Home

You can help make your home warmer by adding insulation and sealing drafts around doors and windows.

Helpful Resources

Wood Smoke Complaints

Call 503-988-0035 or email woodsmokecomplaints@multco.us. We will respond within 1-2 business days.


Contact Us

Environmental Health Services
847 NE 19th Ave, Suite 350
Portland OR 97232 (MAP)
503-988-0035