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Only certified wood stoves can be used during advisories

Please explain what a wood stove advisory means to people who burn in wood stoves. With the air quality being affected by the inversion, can people still burn in their wood stoves? What rules apply, and who enforces these rules? 

— Smoky Skies

We'll try to clear the air for you, Smoky Skies. 

The wood stove advisories you've seen lately are of particular interest to people who don't have certified wood stoves or fireplace inserts. "Certified" ultimately means it was "manufactured after 1985 and has a permanently affixed Oregon D.E.Q or a U.S. EPA certification label," according to the Jackson County Environmental Public Health website. 

There are two types of advisories, yellow and red.

"When there's yellow, we're saying it's approaching unhealthy levels. When we're in red, we're in the unhealthy levels," said Jon Wright, county environmental health specialist. "That's as loud as we can bark."

"It just means the air quality's getting worse," division Manager Chad Petersen said.

You can visit https://jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/Environmental-Public-Health/Wood-Stove-and-Open-Burning or call 541-776-9000 to find out daily conditions.

When the county issues either one of those advisories, you can use your wood stove as long as no "visible" smoke is produced. Tips for cleaner burning include burning small, hot fires, not burning overnight, having efficient oxygen flow and utilizing dry wood. Burning garbage is not advised.

Enforcement of the rules depends on where you live. If you live in the county, the county enforces it. If you live inside city limits, individual cities handle enforcement, Petersen said.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.