An air stagnation advisory is a warning issued by the National Weather Service when there is a high-pressure system that is expected to hover over an area for several days. This type of atmospheric condition can cause major buildups of smoke, dust, industrial gases and other air pollutants to collect near the ground.
When this occurs, state air quality agencies urge residents to refrain from burning anything outside and limit residential wood-burning activities until conditions improve. If people do have to burn, they should wear N95 masks that can help filter out most of the harmful air particulates.
Air stagnation means that there is a period of time when the air is very dry. This is caused by a high-pressure system that is holding hot air close to the ground and preventing light winds from bringing in fresh air.
The Northwest Weather Service issued the air stagnation advisory on Sunday. It covers western Washington and is in effect through Wednesday morning at noon.
The Duwamish Valley has been identified by ProPublica as a hot-spot for air pollutants that can cause cancer at a rate of 3.4 times what’s considered acceptable by EPA standards. That’s why the National Weather Service is advising that residents in the area delay outdoor burning until conditions improve.
As long as you keep up with your doctor’s recommendations, the air stagnation advisory should be short-lived. For now, however, it’s a concern in communities like the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods where a large number of wood-burning stoves and outdoor burning activities are commonplace.