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With late fall’s shorter days and cooler temperatures, many residents turn to wood stoves or fireplaces to heat their homes. Depending on weather conditions, though, it’s not always safe to burn wood for heat. 
That’s where an air quality advisory program called the Western Slope Air Watch comes in. At least weekly from Nov. 1, 2014 – Feb. 28, 2015, the Mesa County Health Department through this program issues advisories to residents of Mesa, Delta and Montrose Counties. The advice is simple: either “OK to Burn” or “No Burn.”
“No Burn” periods are declared when there is a temperature inversion, which could trap wood smoke in the air. Wood smoke contains compounds that can cause both short- and long-term respiratory problems and may increase the risk of cancer. Infants, young children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory problems are more prone to issues from wood smoke.
During “No Burn” periods, residents also should carpool, walk or use public transportation when possible and refrain from idling vehicles. 
“No Burn” advisories do not apply to residents who use gas logs, gas fireplace inserts or EPA-certified wood stoves and pellet stoves, or if a wood-burning stove or fireplace is the home’s sole source of heat.
Compliance is mandatory for all other residents of the City of Grand Junction but is voluntary elsewhere in Mesa County and in Delta and Montrose Counties. 
“No Burn” periods are denoted with a red flame on the Western Slope Air Watch page at health.mesacounty.us, while “OK to Burn” periods have a blue flame.
To receive Air Watch advisories via e-mail, send a note to healthinfo@mesacounty.us or call 970-248-6966. To view advisories online, visit health.mesacounty.us/environment/air/wsaw/.