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Advisory meetings are usually held at the Agency's office at 1904 3rd Avenue, Suite 105, Seattle, Washington. (http://wa-pugetsoundcleanair.civicplus.com/270/Get-Directions)
Occasionally meetings are held at a different location; in that event, location and directions will be published in advance of the meeting.
Meetings typically begin around 9 a.m. and end around noon.
Air sensors are part of a new generation of lower cost portable monitors available to the public for measuring the quality of the air you breathe. These sensors typically cost between $100 and $2500. While that may not seem inexpensive, they are a fraction of the cost of our regulatory instruments.
These air sensors can estimate a variety of pollutants including: dust, fine particulate matter, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxide, and many others.
You’ll notice that we said “estimate” above. That’s because along with being lower cost, air sensors are lower quality when compared to our regulatory instruments. The monitors that report to our website are built and operated according to rigorous air monitoring regulations determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and they provide high-quality data.
Air sensors can be used to help answer questions about air quality such as: How does the air quality during my commute compare to my air quality at home?; Is a particular industrial source near my house causing worse air quality?; Is air quality in my neighborhood better during the summer or winter?
South Coast’s Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC) reviews turnkey products and the World Air Quality Index project reviews raw sensors if you’re looking for a DIY solution. AQ-SPEC operates an evaluation program where they compare air sensors to regulatory monitors both in a laboratory test chamber and in the field on a long term basis. This is the most comprehensive air sensor testing program that we know of and how we select sensors for our own evaluation.
It’s not always clear what your air sensors readings mean, especially if you’re trying to compare them to the air quality data found on our website. Air sensors give readings every minute, or even instantaneously, and our regulatory monitoring is reported hourly or daily. We report at these longer time scales because that is the type of health based data we have. This is what the Air Quality Index (AQI) is based on. We don’t currently have an equivalent for air sensors, but EPA is working on that.
EPA has launched the Sensor Scale Pilot Project to test a new tool for making instantaneous outdoor air quality data useful for the public. The new “sensor scale” is designed to be used with air quality sensors that provide data in short time increments–often as little as one minute. EPA developed the scale to help people understand the one-minute data the stations provide and how to use those data as an additional tool for planning outdoor activities. Check out EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox for more info.
The easiest and most reliable way is to compare your air sensor to your nearest regulatory monitoring site. If your data isn’t matching up there could be a number of reasons why including: your air sensor is not working properly or isn’t in a good location for sampling.
We are currently working on a way for citizen scientists to upload their data to our website for further evaluation. Until then, contact either Erik Saganic or Adam Petrusky to see if we can use your data.
We have a limited library of air sensors for loan to teachers and other non-profit organizations. These include Dylos and AirBeam particle counters, and Cairpol gas sensors for CO. If you have a specific project in mind, contact Adam Petrusky for more information and availablilty.
An asbestos survey is performed by an AHERA Building Inspector. An AHERA inspector can be located in the Yellow pages under “Asbestos”. A single-family resident homeowner can perform an asbestos survey for their renovation project, but not for the demolition of their residence.
Material that can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure or by the forces expected to act upon the material in the course of the demolition or disposal. Such material includes, but is not limited to, thermal system insulation, surfacing material, sheet-vinyl flooring with paper-like backing, and cement asbestos products.
Material that is not friable. This may include asbestos asphaltic roofing, vinyl asbestos tile, mastic, and caulking, depending upon their condition.
Only a few types of asbestos materials were banned: sprayed-on fireproofing, pipe insulation, and boiler insulation. Even then, existing inventories of asbestos containing materials could be used until they were gone. This is one reason why there is no set construction date which can be relied upon to determine that a building does not contain asbestos. Even some newly-manufactured building materials imported into the country have been found to contain asbestos.
Nearly every building material has historically contained asbestos. Asbestos was used in over 3000 building products. Most asbestos building material types are friable or have become so with deterioration due to age, weathering or wear and tear. A list of suspect asbestos containing materials can be found in Asbestos Survey Guidance (PDF).
Materials that contain asbestos must be taken to a disposal facility authorized to accept asbestos waste. View a list of these facilities within our jurisdiction.
After properly saturating or coating the item with water, carefully wrap the items to ensure they are in a leak tight container(s). Call the waste disposal site authorized to accept your asbestos waste for specific instructions. If plastic is used, it must be a minimum of 6-mil in thickness. A “burrito style” wrapping is often used. Be sure to seal all ends with duct tape and attach asbestos warning labels and other required markings.
Yes, advance notification is required on any structure with a roof area greater than 120 square feet. You must wait 10 days after submitting your notification to the Agency, unless you file for an emergency demolition.
If the roof area of the building was 120 square feet or less, no notification was needed. However, you must follow all other rules for handling and disposing of asbestos.
If the roof area was greater than 120 square feet, a notice was required even if no asbestos is present. The Agency will not accept a demolition notification after the demolition has occurred. You may receive a Notice of Violation from our Agency for failure to notify. Before further disturbing the debris, you must determine whether it contains asbestos material. Obtain the services of an AHERA Building Inspector (look in the yellow pages under “Asbestos”) to survey the demolition debris for the presence of asbestos.
It must be handled and disposed of in accordance with our asbestos regulations. Depending on the quantities involved, you may need to file an asbestos notification with our Agency. You may receive a Notice of Violation for not removing the friable asbestos containing waste material (ACWM) before conducting the demolition.
Our agency allows non-friable asbestos-containing roofing material to be left in place if the material remains non-friable during the demolition. Other government regulatory agencies, such as the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, may have different requirements.
You should not disturb any debris and immediately notify your property owner or landlord. Ask whether the ceiling material contains asbestos or whether it was ever tested for the presence of asbestos. If the crumbling popcorn ceiling material contains asbestos, we suggest that a certified asbestos abatement contractor remove, repair, or encapsulate the ceiling.
If low pressure is used without abrasives and the siding will not be disturbed, then pressure washing is allowable. If the washing abrades the surface, breaks, or otherwise disturbs the siding, then the project becomes subject to the asbestos regulatory requirements.
Information about vermiculite can be obtained at the EPA website.
You should consider obtaining the services of an asbestos professional (industrial hygienist or consultant) to assist you in determining the extent of any possible asbestos contamination and to work with you to develop a corrective action plan to address any potential hazard.
When filing online and your payment has been approved, you will be able to print your notification. If you come into the agency office to pay with cash and use a hard copy notification form, we will make a photocopy for you. Always keep copies of the notification along with the asbestos survey on site during the project.
Complete an Asbestos Waste Material Shipment Record (PDF) and keep it with you when transporting ACM to a disposal site authorized to accept asbestos waste. A list of asbestos waste disposal sites can also be found on our website.
Yes, on the completion date you specify on the submitted notification. The completion date must be commensurate with the amount of work being performed.
Yes, you can submit an emergency notification for a fee of $40 to waive the required 10-day waiting period. Single-family residences are exempt from the $40 emergency fee.
A notification submitted to the agency online or completed in our office on an approved notification form that provides the information requested and is accompanied with the appropriate fee by credit or debit card, or cash. No checks are accepted.
No. Please remember that asbestos-containing waste material must be deposited at a waste disposal site authorized to accept such waste within 10 days of removal.
The Agency can assess a monetary civil penalty up to $18,388.00 per day per violation. If an economic benefit is realized by non-compliance, the penalty can reflect this estimated cost which is often non negotiable. Criminal sanctions may occur for a knowing or willful violation.
To satisfy the requirement for a written report under the asbestos survey requirements, a written statement by the property owner identifying which suspect materials are presumed to be asbestos containing would suffice. Remember to post this written statement at the work site or communicate to all persons who may come into contact with the material.
Friable asbestos need not be removed prior to a demolition or renovation, if the property owner demonstrates to the Agency that it is not accessible because of hazardous conditions. The property owner must submit a written determination of the hazard to the Agency by an authorized government official or a licensed structural engineer, and must also submit procedures that will be followed for controlling asbestos emissions during the demolition or renovation and disposal of the asbestos. Work cannot proceed without an approval from the Agency.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) administers the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP). All asbestos samples collected in schools for AHERA-related purposes must be analyzed only by a NVLAP-accredited laboratory. The use of NVLAP-accredited laboratories for the analysis of samples collected in private homes and other non-school buildings is not required by current Agency or federal regulation, but is nevertheless strongly recommended to ensure dependable quality results.
Board meetings are usually held at the Agency's office at 1904 3rd Avenue, Suite 105, Seattle, Washington. (http://wa-pugetsoundcleanair.civicplus.com/270/Get-Directions)
Occasionally meetings are held at a different location; in that event, location and directions will be published in advance of the meeting.
Meetings typically begin around 8:45 a.m. and end around noon.
All Board meetings are open to the public; only Executive Sessions are closed. If you would like to speak to the Board about an air quality issue that is not on the agenda, there is a comment portion for the public at the beginning of every meeting (depending on how many people present would like to address the Board, you usually have approximately 3-5 minutes to speak).
When there are regulation changes being proposed during a public hearing, there will be an opportunity during that portion of the agenda to speak to the Board specifically about the proposed regulation changes. You will be advised at that time how much time you will be allotted to make your comments.
An “adequate source of heat” is a heating system that is designed to maintain a temperature of 70 degrees F at a point three feet above the floor in each normally inhabited room. We base our assessments on the adequacy of the whole system’s heating capacity, including any parts of the heating system that may have been disconnected, damaged or simply aren’t working. If your heating system is disconnected, damaged or simply not working, please still include this information otherwise your application will be incomplete and the Agency will not be able to process your application.
Most homes in our counties have another adequate source of heat (furnace, electric baseboards etc) beyond wood stoves, because of building code requirements.
In order to receive an exemption, you must apply for a "no other adequate source of heat" exemption from the Agency. To apply for an exemption, please download the application or call (206) 716-1195, option 1 and request one to be sent to you. Please note, we will review and confirm the information that you have provided in your application with what is listed on your county assessor’s page.
Please apply for an exemption immediately, you can download the application or call (206) 716-1195, option 1, and request one to be sent to you. Please note, applying for the NOASH will not automatically guarantee that your NOV will be dismissed, you will still need to provide the Agency with a written response and information on your wood burning device as instructed on the NOV.
On the few days we have air quality burn bans in place, the use of your primary, clean heating device (furnace, electric baseboard) is expected in order to keep air quality healthy for you, your family, and your neighbors. The exception is if your wood stove is your only adequate source of heat and you have applied and received an exemption from the Agency.
This exemption was designed to identify those homes that have no other way, besides wood burning, to sufficiently heat their homes. As a regulatory agency, we are required to follow the law, which is quite clear: the “no other adequate source of heat” decision is based on the heating system(s) currently in your home.
We cannot take into consideration:
We do, however, take income level into account to help identify possible assistance programs to help you with your home heating. A resource list can be found in the FAQs.
If you are renting the home and/or it is owned by a friend or family member, please fill out Question #5 with your contact information and Question #6 with your landlord’s contact information.
If you own the home, please fill out Question #5 with your contact information.
If you do not live at the home and you are filling this form out for a family member or friend, please fill out Question #7 with your contact information.
Look for the main breaker handle (the biggest one) and see if the amps are listed on the handle or look for the amps on the toggle switch.
Look for the boiler tag on your heater; this will contain the BTU ratings.
Answer this question to the best of your knowledge.
You may continue to burn wood cleanly during air quality burn bans for the time period stated on your approval letter from the Clean Air Agency. Keep your eyes open for an application reminder that we will send to you before the next heating season. Also, regardless of your exemption status, we may contact you to see if you qualify for one of our incentive programs to improve your heating situation.
Regardless of your exemption status, the smoke density coming from your chimney must be less than 20% in opacity at all times or you can still receive an opacity violation.
For more information on burning cleanly, please visit our Burning Legal Overview page.
While you may not be eligible for this specific exemption, you may have extenuating circumstances that make it difficult for you to comply with burn bans. If you burn wood during an air quality burn ban, you may receive a notice of violation. Should you receive a notice of violation from our inspection staff, you’ll have an opportunity to respond with a detailed explanation of your situation which will be taken into consideration when determining how to resolve your case.
Depending on where you live and your individual circumstances, you may be able to take advantage of rebates and assistance offered by our partner organizations:
If you have a certified device, you may use it during a stage 1 burn ban without needing an exemption. If you don’t have a certified device, it is illegal to burn during a stage 1 AND a stage 2 burn ban.
If it has solid metal door(s) on the front, then it is uncertified.
Certified stoves will have an EPA label that will look like this:
Or an Oregon DEQ label that looks like this:
An air quality burn ban is a mandatory, yet temporary, order that restricts the use of wood stoves and fireplaces, as well as outdoor burning, when air quality is degraded and human health may be adversely impacted. Air quality burn bans typically occur during fall and winter months and may last for up to a week or more.
For more information, visit our About Burn Bans page.
During a Stage 1 burn ban:
During a Stage 2 burn ban:
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has regulatory authority to issue burn bans in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, in accordance with RCW 70.94.473.
The smoke from burning wood and wood-based products contains fine particles (soot) and a toxic mix of other carcinogens. This pollution is harmful to your health, particularly for young children, older adults and people with respiratory and heart disease. During stagnant weather conditions, concentrations of wood smoke can reach harmful levels, so we restrict wood smoke emissions to protect air quality in our neighborhoods and the health of those living there.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency calls air quality burn bans for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Air quality burn bans for areas outside Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s jurisdiction are issued by other local air agencies, the Washington Department of Ecology or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
We follow State Burn Ban Requirements:
We issue these bans based on the air quality conditions in the individual counties and in some cases sub-county areas within our jurisdiction. As a result, one or more counties or areas may have a Stage 1 burn ban in place while another county has advanced to a Stage 2 burn ban. Or one county may have a burn ban in effect while others have no restrictions in place.
We typically issue burn bans on a county-wide basis. Our counties, however, have very diverse landscapes. Sometimes, one part of a county may experience stagnant weather conditions and elevated pollution levels, while in another part of the county, it’s windy and the air is somewhat cleaner.
We issue burn bans when we expect air pollution to worsen. Sometimes the AQI may read “good” or “moderate” at the time we issue a ban; that means we anticipate that air pollution will build up soon. Pollution tends to build slowly during the day and is typically worst at night and early morning hours.
Air quality can indeed vary throughout our large counties. We typically issue bans on a county-wide basis for clearly communicating it to the public and media, and to help maintain healthy air throughout the region.
We call bans in Pierce and Snohomish counties more often due to lower thresholds for fine particle pollution (per state law). They also tend to have more burn bans than King or Kitsap because they reach higher pollution levels more frequently. This is in part because they have more wood burning communities in highly-populated, compact areas. It also tends to be a bit windier in Seattle and parts of King County, which helps blow away the pollution and keep it from reaching unhealthy levels.
We have identified the Pierce Peninsula and South Pierce zones of Pierce County as areas that may have levels of pollution different than the rest of the county. The Greater Pierce County zone experiences bans more often than the rest of our region.
To find out which burn ban zone you are in, please check the Pierce County Burn Ban Area Map.
To sign up for text alerts for these areas, text:
Pierce county has three separate burn ban zones. These zones are referred to as Greater Pierce County, South Pierce, and Pierce Peninsula.
We offer many ways to learn about burn bans (read more of our FAQs to learn more). You can also sign up to receive alerts about burn bans.
Where there is smoke, there is likely fire and non-compliance with the burn ban. Our agency inspectors are trained to read the density, or “opacity,” of smoke and to determine if visible smoke violates the state’s opacity laws. It is always illegal to generate excessive smoke, defined as 20% opacity or more for more than six consecutive minutes, even when a burn ban is not in effect.
If you have a device that is legal to use during a Stage 1 burn ban or if this is your only adequate source of heat, you still must burn cleanly and not emit visible smoke. Remember, excessive smoke is illegal at any time, from any device.
If our inspectors observe a burn ban violation, they will issue a Notice of Violation to the property owner. Notices of Violation carry a maximum fine of up to $1,000.
Air quality burn bans are issued and enforced by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency when air pollution levels rise to unhealthy levels. Air quality burn bans typically occur during colder fall and winter months.
Fire safety burn bans are issued and enforced by the fire marshal or local fire departments when dry weather conditions heighten the risk of wildfires. Fire safety burn bans are generally called during the summer and can last for several months, even into the fall.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is not responsible for issuing or enforcing fire safety burn bans. For more on fire safety bans, contact your county fire marshal or local fire department.
A certified wood stove/fireplace insert would likely have a label on the top indicating it complies with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards. To the right is a sample label.
Here are a few other ways to determine whether you have a certified or uncertified device:
On the few days we have air quality burn bans in place, the use of your (primary) clean heating device is expected in order to keep air quality healthy for you, your family, and your neighbors. The exception is if your wood stove is your only adequate source of heat and you have an approved "no other adequate source of heat" exemption from the Agency.
An “adequate source of heat” is a heating system that is designed to maintain a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit at a point three feet above the floor in each normally inhabited room. We base our assessment on the adequacy of the whole system’s heating capacity, including any parts of the heating system that may have been disconnected, damaged or simply aren’t working.
Most homes in our area have another adequate source of heat beyond wood stoves, because of building code requirements.
In some cases, using a wood burning device may be the only way to adequately heat your home. If you believe this is true for your home, you may apply for “no other adequate source of heat” exemption through our agency.
You must apply and be approved for this exemption before using your wood burning device during an air quality burn ban.
Download the Application Form (PDF)
To learn more about these exemptions, read our No Other Adequate Source of Heat FAQs.
We take odor complaints very seriously and follow the protocols established through our regulations which state that it is against the law to emit any air contaminant that unreasonably interferes with enjoyment of life and property.
We prioritize our response based on the number of complaints and likelihood of the smell still being present. You must be willing to provide a written statement describing how the smell is impacting your life and or property (at this moment) and agree to testify under oath later if any enforcement action taken by the agency is appealed.
Once on site, our inspector must be able to detect an odor that is distinct, definite and unpleasant, and be able to trace the odor back to its source.
When you detect an odor that interferes with your enjoyment of life and/ or property, please register your complaint with us as soon as possible. Our inspectors will evaluate the information and will respond if resources are available. It is important to submit a complaint while the odor is actually occurring. Please visit the Complaint Section of our website for instructions. Our online complaint process is the most efficient way to file a complaint.
Yes. We have issued several civil penalties to Cedar Grove for nuisance odor violations at both of its facilities.
ERMAS (Environmental Reporting, Monitoring and Solutions) is a consulting firm hired by Cedar Grove to respond to and investigate odor complaints in the Southeast King County and Marysville/ Everett areas. The agency does not work with ERMAS.
The study is complete. View the Report Summary (PDF) or full Final Report (PDF) for details.
No, but the agency does take interest in organizations that communicate odor related information to the public. The Facts on Composting (FOC) website was funded by a public participation grant from the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE), but is not necessarily endorsed by DOE. According to FOC, the goal of the grant is to provide community outreach to address potential health threats from emissions from large scale composting facilities in Western Washington.
Diesel exhaust represents 78% of the potential cancer risk from all air toxics in the Puget Sound area. It is also linked to respiratory and cardiovascular problems and premature death. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems or illnesses are especially vulnerable. Recent studies show people living near ports and roadways have higher exposures and health risk.
The majority of diesel exhaust in the Puget Sound region comes from four transportation sectors:
A combination of regulatory and voluntary measures are underway to reduce diesel emissions from the transportation sectors. This includes our Diesel Solutions program, and working with regional, national and international partners.
Yes, although we do not respond to anonymous complaints for wood smoke, dust or odor complaints. Due to the number of complaints we receive, we focus our resources on complaints where the person complaining is willing to provide their contact information for any follow-up questions.
Important: If you provide your contact information, we cannot keep it anonymous. Your complaint will become a public record. Being a public agency, we are required by our regulations (PDF) and state law to provide access to your complaint (and contact information) if someone submits a request. For more information please call 800-552-3565.
We need your contact information for complaints about odor, dust or wood smoke if we decide to take enforcement action against the offending party and need you as a witness.
However, you may anonymously report a burn ban violation. This is because we receive so many wood smoke complaints during a burn ban that we cannot respond to each individual complaint. Rather, we collect all complaints and use that information to help identify neighborhoods that are being most impacted by wood smoke during a burn ban and focus our enforcement activity. For more information please call 800-552-3565.
Fire departments are the main contact for outdoor burning because they know where outdoor burning is allowed and banned. Where it is allowed, they issue burning permits with requirements that certain conditions be met. One of these conditions is that the fire not impact one's neighbors. Therefore, contact your local fire department if your neighbor's outdoor fire, permitted or not, is impacting you. For more information please call 800-552-3565.
We do not regulate the emissions from trains, so we do not respond to complaints about idling trains. We recommend that you report your complaint to the railroad company.
To identify the owner of the idling train, review a map of Washington's rail system (PDF). For railroad contact information, please see our list of Other Contacts.
Gas station owners are required to develop and maintain an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) plan. These can be as simple as a checklist showing when inspections for gasoline leaks from hoses and nozzles are completed and any corrective action (repair) taken. The O&M plan should include a simple statement of how the station will complete the required tests in a timely manner. Some stations set a regular testing schedule (e.g., every December and June).
Yes. We may inspect your station, but we are less likely to do so if we have your passing tests on file and your registration fees are paid on time.
Costs may vary. Contact a certified technician for test costs.
No. If the defective equipment cannot be repaired by the close of the next business day following the failed compliance test, you must stop receiving and/or dispensing gasoline from the defective equipment until it is repaired and retested, and passes all required compliance tests.
The station owner or operator is required to keep copies of test reports on-site for two years from the dates of the tests.
The tester is required to submit a pass/fail test to the agency within five days after the test.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has reviewed the EPA guidance and conducted our own analysis. View the Analysis Results (PDF).
Only technicians who have passed the certification exams are permitted to conduct equipment tests and do new equipment installations in our jurisdiction. Highly-skilled, certified technicians help ensure that testing and repairs are done correctly, saving station owners and operators staff time and training costs and reducing equipment failures.
View our List of Certified Testers and Installers.
A tester who claims to be certified but is not may be fined by the Clean Air Agency. Ultimately, you, the gas station owner/operator, are responsible for hiring a certified technician. Always ask a technician for his or her certification card to ensure it is valid.
Odors from producing and processing plants must be controlled and not cause a nuisance to your neighbors.
The main requirements are the Notice of Construction (NOC) or permitting program and the Registration program. The NOC program is a pre-construction application and review program that, when approved, result in permits to businesses with site-specific conditions to achieve compliance with air quality laws and regulations. The NOC applications rely on case-by-case decisions which reflect the specifics of the application and the emission control technology options and projected impacts for that specific proposal.
The Registration program includes on-site inspections, compliance reviews, and annual fees to the Agency. The inspections review compliance with specific permit conditions (obtained through the NOC approval process) along with general agency regulations.
We are charged with preventing, reducing and controlling emissions and exposure from significant sources of air pollution. If facilities need meaningful emission controls to prevent them from being a nuisance to the public, we take that responsibility seriously and want to work with producers and processors to identify the methods and means to achieve the common goal of “no nuisance impacts.”
We care about the actual or potential emissions that may come from these facilities for producers and processors. Our current understanding is that the producer (i.e. grower) and processor operations produce a significant amount of odorous emissions which may cause nuisance impacts off site if they are not properly controlled and managed. Colorado is working through similar issues to those faced in Washington and has shared some guidance regarding some odor control practices.
We have coordinated with other local government agency representatives and visited some early licensee sites to understand what types of activities are involved in these operations. This has confirmed the potential for odorous emissions.
Our focus is on the producers and processors for this industry, not retail facilities.
Check out our Renewable Diesel page!
The Alternative Fuels Data Center is a great resource for all of the latest federal and state incentives!
There are so many! Learn more.
Text WILDFIRES to 313131 or subscribe to our email list for updates on when wildfire smoke impacts our region's air quality.
The size of pollution particles, called particulate matter or PM, are directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. PM is measured in micrometers (µm)
When a wildfire smoke event is taking place, there could be many different particles in the air. Larger PM like ash (PM with a diameter greater than 10µm) can be seen with the naked eye and may be concerning, but our bodies have natural defenses to keep these larger particles from entering our lungs, though they can be an irritant to the eyes, nose, and throat.
Other particles from wood, or wildfire smoke, can be much smaller (PM with a diameter of 2.5µm or less, than 2.5µm, about 3% the diameter of a human hair) and are more dangerous to our health. These smaller particles cannot be seen with the naked eye and can be inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs. There these particles may cause greater health concerns, like breathing and heart problems.