An old wood stove is Heather Burlison's only source of heat.

If we didn't have it, we'd be freezing, she said.

But the smoke escapes and has to end up somewhere - somewhere like Ellen Tiegs' lungs.

It can be pretty hard to breathe, she said.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says smoke from wood stoves is the source for more than half of the pollution in Pierce County. It's almost as harmful as second hand smoke.

The bad air is the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department's biggest concern right now. Although an urban area, a big part of the population still burns wood for heat.

In weeks, the county will use a million dollar grant to trade old stoves for brand new environmentally friendly ones.

Burlison sees the thick layer of smog and plans to swap out her stove, especially for her daughter.

Until then, the only relief is when it rains.

More information

Read or Share this story: