Sheriff’s Office


Air Quality Advisory

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Air Quality Advisory, Polk County, Iowa

Polk County, IA — Polk County Public Works, Air Quality Division is observing elevated hourly ambient levels of fine particulate matter that are above the daily air quality health standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.  Polk County continuously monitors local air quality and over the past several hours we have seen a rise in particulate matter levels.  Based on forecasted meteorological conditions, Polk County anticipates that particulate levels may remain elevated over the next 24-48 hours. 

At these levels, the general population may find air quality to be acceptable. However, people sensitive to air pollution should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. This may include people with lung or heart disease. Children active outdoors can also be sensitive to particle pollution. 

Fine and coarse particles can cause a variety of serious health problems. When exposed to these particles, people with heart or lung diseases and older adults are at increased risk for hospital and emergency room visits and in some cases, even death. These effects have been associated with short-term exposures lasting 24 hours or less. Particles can also aggravate heart disease such as congestive heart failure and lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.

During this period, you may reduce your exposure to particles by 1) planning strenuous activity when particle levels are forecast to be lower, 2) reducing the amount of time spent at vigorous activity, or 3) choosing a less strenuous activity (e.g., going for a walk instead of a jog).

Tips for reducing particle pollution on days when levels are expected to be high:

  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash and other materials.

Real-time and historic ambient air quality monitoring data is posted on the Polk County Air Quality Division Website at: /airquality/  For further questions, please contact the air quality division at 286-3705.

For more detailed information about air quality where you live:


4th of July Fireworks May Impact Air Quality

Friday, June 19, 2015

Each year we celebrate our national birthday with colorful bursts of black powder - fireworks displays are a traditional method of celebrating Independence Day on the 4th of July.

These pyrotechnical displays provide brilliant light shows each Independence Day, but they also cause spikes in air pollution levels that may affect the health of some individuals. The Polk County Air Quality Division has noticed elevated levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution at some of its monitoring stations during previous Independence Days celebrations.

Under the right meteorological conditions, the emissions from fireworks displays can be trapped near the ground and build up to unhealthful levels. The smoke from fireworks displays generally dissipates within a few hours, but individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions may be impacted during that time. People who are susceptible to air pollution should view these displays from a safe distance or from a vantage point upwind of the fireworks.

AQD encourages all residents to have a fun, but safe and healthful, 4th of July Holiday.

Think again before burning leaves: harmful to your health and illegal

Monday, October 20, 2014

Des Moines, IA) – Fall is in the air. Tree leaves are dropping and piling up. Most of us enjoy the fall aroma of burning leaves. However, before you decide to light that pile of leaves on fire, think again. Burning leaves is against the law in parts of Polk County and can be harmful to your health.


“Smoke from burning leaves contains harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide and particulates that can be toxic,” said Rick Kozin, director of Polk County Health Department. “This can increase hospital visits for individuals who have respiratory illnesses or individuals with chronic allergies and asthma.


The smoke generated by burning leaves can also cause health problems.  Leaf smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat of healthy adults. It can be more harmful to small children, the elderly and people with lung or heart diseases.  The visible smoke from burning leaves is made up almost entirely of tiny particles that can reach deep into lung tissue and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath. These symptoms might not occur until several days after exposure to leaf smoke.


“There are several alternatives to leaf burning that are safe, legal and not harmful to your health,” said Jeremy Becker, Air Quality Manager of Polk County Public Works Department. “Individuals can mulch the leaves to put around shrubbery and garden plants, bag leaves for garbage collection or compost the leaves to use as a fertilizer and soil conditioner.”


It is unlawful for any person to open burn or permit open burning of any refuse, rubbish, landscape waste including leaves or other combustible material within the cities of Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, Windsor Heights, Urbandale and Pleasant Hill.


Individuals who live in unincorporated areas of Polk County should practice the following tips to prevent potential burning problems:

  • Allow the material several days of drying time for a more effective burn and reduce smoldering.
  • Watch for favorable weather conditions and safe wind speeds. Wind speeds of 5 to 15 mph, steady from desirable direction are preferred.
  • Be aware of drought like conditions and any bands on burning that may be in place.



For more information regarding leaf burning, please visit Polk County Air Quality’s web site at



Fire Prevention Week Oct. 5-11

Friday, October 03, 2014

October 5-11 is Fire Prevention Week- a great time to promote best burn tips to help keep homes warm and healthier. It’s also a great opportunity to share the health and safety benefits of replacing an old wood stove with cleaner, more efficient home heating.

 Approximately 10 million wood stoves are currently in use in the United States, and 65 percent of them are older, inefficient, conventional stoves. Just 20 old, non-EPA certified wood stoves can emit more than 1 ton of fine particle pollution (PM2.5) into your area during the cold months of the year.

 Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain a mixture of harmful gases and small particles. Breathing these small particles can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis, aggravate heart and lung disease, and may increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses.

 EPA Burn Wise offers the following tools to encourage best burn tips and to help improve the air and health of your community. To help reduce wood smoke in your area, share these tools with local media, partners and others to promote on social media, websites and newsletters.

 -News Article:

-Fire and Health Safety Fast Facts:

-Four Easy Steps InfoGraphic:

-Asthma Video PSA:

-Split, Stack, Cover and Store Video PSA:

 Additional Health Resources and Tools:

 More Video and Radio PSAs:


No Idle Campaign

Monday, July 28, 2014

Polk County Public Works, Air Quality Division invites Public & Private Schools to be part of our No Idling Campaign. The exhaust from idling vehicles and school buses is a health risk for children, drivers, and the community. One of the areas where unnecessary idling occurs most often is at schools, when parents or care givers drop off/pick up their children.

Did you know?

  • Children are more susceptible to asthma because their lungs are not fully developed, they breathe faster and 50 percent more per pound of body weight than adults.
  • Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children. 
  • Just one vehicle dropping off and picking up one child at school puts about three pounds of pollution into the air per month.


Polk County is prepared to help you adopt a policy that will work for your school.  Upon request we can provide:

  • No Idling presentation to staff involved
  • No Idling parking lot signs free of charge
  • No Idling car window decals free of charge
  • Letters explaining the benefits of an Idle-Free zone


  • Parents/Guardian
  • Transportation staff
  • Staff/Faculty


Polk County is committed to reduce idling in our community, and we ask you to join us. By working together, we can do our part to keep Polk County’s air healthy for ourselves, our families, and our community. Please help us spread the message: Turn the key and be Idle Free!


Myths & Facts of Idling

If you have any questions please contact:

Jennifer Bradley

Air Monitoring Specialist

Phone: (515) 286-2227



Procedure for managing municipal wood debris, flood debris & trees and tree trimmings:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The following guidelines and recommendations are intended for municipalities that are accumulating wood debris, flood debris, trees and tree trimmings. Alternatives to open burning should be considered, but are not limited to: tub grinding, chipping or composting.


  • All governmental entities must obtain a permit to burn from Polk County.
  • The burn site shall be operated by a local governmental entity.
  • Access is controlled to the site by fencing.  
  • Burning is supervised at all times.
  • Burning should only be conducted under favorable weather conditions.
  • The burn site is limited to areas at least 1/4 mile (1320 ft) from any residential building. 
  • You are encouraged to contact the Air Quality Division for assistance in obtaining your burn permit. 


Polk County Public Works Department – AQD

5885 NE 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50313

Phone:  (515) 286-3705

Fax:        (515) 286-3437




Smaller burn piles are preferable over one large burn pile. Burning should be conducted so that each burn is completed each day. The purpose of this recommendation is to prevent large piles of smoldering wood.

Ash and remaining materials left over from the burn is considered solid waste and shall be disposed of at a landfill.

Alternatives to open burning should be considered, but are not limited to: tub grinding, chipping or composting.


Lawn Mower Exchange Program-Ended 5/21/14

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

As of 5/21/14 - The Lawn Mower Exchange Program (LMEP) has ended, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Polk County for their outpouring of support in the program.

•    All warranty issues and other optional equipment are available at:

Black & Decker Service Center
3408 Merle Hay Road-Suite A.
Des Moines, Iowa


Lawn Mower Exchange Program Information & Brochure

•    All warranty issues and other optional equipment are available at:

Board of Supervisors Establishes 2014 Public Works Fee Schedule

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On December 17, 2013 the Board of Supervisors established the 2014 Public Works Department fee schedule effective January 1, 2014.  Each year the Public Works Department reviews the fees and fee schedules utilized by the Public Works for issuance of various permits.  As a result of this review it was determined that due to increased operational and administrative costs, the fee rates for 2014 should be increased. The fees schedule for the Air Quality Division will be available January 1, 2014.

Board of Supervisors Approves Air Quality Regulations

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On July 30, 2013, the Board of Supervisors approved the proposed rules modifying the Polk County Board of Health Rules & Regulations Chapter V -Air Pollution, effective August 5th, 2013.

The adoption updated Department references and regulation cross references, adds additional definitions, clarifies open burning regulations, establishes hearing procedures, establishes emission standards for certain industrial processes, updates emission standards for hazardous air pollutants and adds exemptions for construction and operating permits. The following sections updates are approved; 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-7, 5-16, 5-18, 5-20, 5-31, 5-33, 5-34, 5-35, 5-39, 5-50, 5-51, 5-56, 5-57, 5-60, 5-62, 5-63, 5-64, 5-65, 5-67 and 5-75.

A complete copy of the regulation is available on file in the Polk County Public Works Department office at, 5885 NE 14th Street, Des Moines, Iowa or found on the Air Quality website at:


Your Local Air Quality - AirNow

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

AIRNOW offers daily air quality forecasts, as well as real-time conditions, for over 300 cities across the country

American Lung Associations's State of the Air Report- 2013(4/24/2013)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thanks to the Clean Air Act, the United States continues to make progress providing healthier air. The State of the Air 2013 report looks at levels of ozone and particle pollution found in official monitoring sites across the United States in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The report uses the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for these analyses. Find Polk County, Iowa's results:

Contact Us

Phone: (515)-286-3705
Fax: (515)-286-3437
Operating Hours: 7am - 5pm / M-F
5885 NE 14 Street
Des Moines, IA 50313