Keeping Warm and Cleaning our Air: Public Hearing in Boston on New Wood-Heater Standards
With a New England winter in full bloom, many of us burn wood to help heat our homes. People may not know, however, that burning wood – either in indoor or outdoor heaters – can be inefficient, as well as emit more pollution into the air than oil or natural gas heat sources.
Last month, EPA issued a proposal to update standards for wood-burning stoves and heaters used by people in homes and other residential buildings. We have proposed that, beginning next year (2015), new stoves and heaters will be a whopping 80 percent cleaner than units built and sold today.
This will mean better air quality, and better public health, in communities all across the country. It will improve winter air quality in many parts of New England, especially in rural areas where more people use wood as a fuel source to keep their homes warm. In some areas of New England, especially in valleys, fine particle pollution from wood smoke significantly reduces air quality in winter.
Wood smoke contains fine particles and toxic pollutants, which can reach levels that are harmful to peoples’ health – for your family and for your neighbors. Fine particle pollution is linked to serious health effects, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks.
EPA’s proposal would affect only new wood heaters manufactured beginning in 2015. It will not affect heaters and stoves already in use in homes, or those currently for sale today. The proposed standards also would not affect fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens, barbecues or chimineas.
EPA is hosting a public hearing on the proposed updated pollution standards for woodstoves and heaters in our Boston office on Feb. 26. People who wish to attend are encouraged to pre-register to speak.
We also have a lot of good tips on how to burn wood more efficiently and reduce your exposure to wood smoke, such as burning only well-seasoned wood, properly stacking and covering your firewood, and never burning household trash in your woodstove. Check out these and other wood-burning tips at EPA’s Burn Wise website.
Curt Spalding is the Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office, located in Boston.
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