Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

Public Awareness and Reasearch of Outdoor Wood Boilers

News 2014 Last Updated 3-3-14

This page is dedicated to any and all news stories we have found throughout the country and world that deal with Outdoor Wood Boilers.

 

 

If at all you have found an article related to OWB's not already posted, please feel to let us know and we will post it. Contact us at freedomofair@yahoo.com

 

April 2014

April 29, 2014

 

Statement by AG Schneiderman on EPA's Agreement to Finalize New Air Pollution Standards for Residential Wood Heaters

April 29 2014   

Source: Long Island News & PRs 

 

New York, NY - April 29. 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued the following statement regarding today’s settlement in federal court requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize air pollution standards for new residential wood heaters by February 3, 2015:

“I commend EPA for acknowledging its overdue obligation to update its air pollution standards for wood heaters, and for agreeing to finalize those standards by early next year. My office will continue to engage EPA and the other states to ensure that the standards safeguard public health.”

In October 2013, leading a coalition of seven states, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to adequately limit air pollution emissions from new residential wood heaters. In the legal papers, Schneiderman's coalition contended the EPA's existing emissions limits, which haven't been revised in 25 years, were outdated and left out popular types of residential wood heaters -- including outdoor wood boilers, which have proliferated in many areas of New York. 

On February 3, 2014 EPA published in the Federal Register new standards to limit emissions from new residential wood heaters. The EPA is currently accepting public comments on those standards through May 5, 2014.  The settlement announced today requires EPA to finalize its issuance of those standards by February 3, 2015.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 10, 2014

 

EPA lists efficiencies of qualified outdoor boilers

April 10, 2014

By Alliance for Green Heat

 

On April 8, the EPA posted efficiencies for outdoor wood and pellet boilers, also known as hydronic heaters.  Efficiencies ranged from 39 percent to 78 percent as measured using higher heating value.

The average qualified outdoor wood boiler is 63 percent efficient and the average pellet boilers is 70 percent.  However, of the 39 units qualified under the EPA’s voluntary program, efficiencies were only listed for 20 units.  Nineteen of the units do not have efficiency numbers available because they were tested using EPA’s previous Method, which resulted in excessively high efficiency numbers.

The highest efficiency boiler in the EPA’s qualified program is Central Boiler’s E-Classic 1450 at 78 percent HHV.  The lowest is Marway Welding’s Phase 2 – 200 at 39 percent.  Another boiler has 47 percent efficiency, which shows how boilers can qualify for the EPA’s voluntary program emission standards without having high thermal efficiency.  Thermal efficiency measures heat transfer from the combustion chamber to the water that heats the home.

The posting of these efficiency numbers was welcomed by the Alliance for Green Heat who has long advocated for consumers having access to reliable efficiency data.  The listing of reliable efficiencies makes hydronic heaters the first class of wood heating appliances to provide efficiencies to the general public.  It may take years for the public to get reliable efficiencies on most wood and pellet stoves, as most manufacturers have been unwilling to share that information with the public until it is required by law to do so.  To date, only 9 stove manufacturers have provided third party efficiency numbers for the EPA to publicly post.  

These boiler efficiencies show that most boilers are not higher in efficiency than top performing wood stoves.  They indicate that there is even a wider range in boiler efficiency than wood stoves, including several that are very low efficiency units. 

The saga to provide consumers with such data has taken many twists and turns.  In 2011, the EPA removed efficiency numbers that were in the 90 percent range after state regulators questioned their accuracy.  Scott Nichols, who sells European indoor boilers that are not part of the EPA voluntary program, is one of few to write about these issues that have faced EPA and the boiler industry. 

The EPA requested outdoor boiler manufacturers to stop using the discredited high efficiency numbers in their advertising, but few stopped using them, leading to a letter from the EPA in 2013, which strongly urged manufacturers to stop using the efficiency numbers.  The Alliance for Green Heat reported on that development and documented numerous cases where outdoor boiler manufacturers were engaging in other misleading advertising practices

The EPA again sent a letter to qualified boiler manufacturers on Jan. 31, 2014  because “misleading information has appeared on several partner manufactures and retailer websites.”  This information included language such as EPA “certified” or “approved” boilers and claims that their boilers were up to 90 percent efficient.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 8, 2014

Bounty offered for woodburners

April 8, 2014

Source: South Pittsburgh Reporter, Staff

Following the success of its first “bounty” program last year, the Health Department is again offering County residents a chance to dispose of old woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers that do not meet current national emission standards in return for cash incentives. 

“Allegheny County has recently hit significant milestones in its air quality and we want to continue to encourage further improvements,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Last year’s program was successful, but we also had many residents who were unaware of it. Through the Clean Air Fund, we have the ability to offer the program again, encourage residents to take steps to eliminate these contributors to air pollution, and reward them for their participation.”

The Health Department is offering a $500 cash incentive for non-Phase II outdoor wood-fired boilers and a $200 gift card for uncertified woodstoves. The bounties will be offered for up to five outdoor wood-fired boilers and 200 woodstoves. The gift cards are for Home Depot, Lowes, Kmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GetGo and Giant Eagle. 

The program is for Allegheny County residents, and participants must register in advance. For more information or to register, call 412-578-8106 or visit http://www.achd.net/air/bounty/. Registrations will be accepted until May 9.

“We have created these bounty programs in response to an increasing number of citizen complaints about wood-burning emissions and to help reduce the amount of smoke and fine particulate pollution that come from using such old wood-burning equipment,” said Health Director Dr. Karen Hacker. “Together, we can make a difference in reducing or eliminating fine particulate pollution.” 

The woodstoves and boilers must be turned in at a collection event to be held on Saturday, May 17, from 1 to 4 p.m ., at the swimming pool parking lot on South Ridge Drive in North Park. No stoves or boilers will be accepted the day of the event from anyone who has not registered in advance.

Stoves and boilers will be processed by Tube City IMS at its Recycling Center in West Mifflin. 

The bounty program is supported by a $75,000 grant from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund.

Fifty-nine woodstoves and one outdoor wood-fired boiler manufactured before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set emission standards for such equipment were turned in and taken out of service in the first bounty program last year, helping to reduce wood-burning emissions this past winter.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 3, 2014

 

County Collects Woodstoves, Boilers to Reduce Pollution

April 3, 2014

By: Jessica Nath

  

Woodstoves and boilers might have helped keep homes warm over the winter, but they also could have harmed the environment.

That’s why for the second year, the Allegheny County Health Department is collecting old woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers that do not meet the current national emission standards. 

“We’re looking for folks to bring them in and they will receive gift cards from a variety of different stores,” Karen Hacker, Allegheny County Health Department Director, said. “We really would like to get these types of woodstoves out of the environment as they do cause pollution and irritants in the air.”

The department is offering a $200 gift card for up to 200 uncertified woodstoves and $500 gift card for up to five non-Phase II outdoor wood-fired boilers.  The gift cards are for Home Depot, Lowes, Kmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GetGo and Giant Eagle. 

The county collected 59 woodstoves and one outdoor wood-fired boiler last year, and the program is being offered again through a $75,000 grant from the County Clean Air Fund.

According to Hacker, the programs were created in response to an increasing number of complaints about wood-burning emissions. 

She said the county hopes to reduce the amount of smoke and fine particulate pollution produced by the wood-burning equipment.

“I think people often think of wood stoves as cozy and nice and they don’t usually think of them as polluters,” Hacker said. “But actually they can add to pollution, particularly particulate matter, and for folks who are vulnerable, they have asthma or other lung kinds of problems, it can be very irritating.” 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the particulate matter has been linked to symptoms ranging from irritation of the airways to aggravated asthma and chronic bronchitis to nonfatal heart attacks and cancer.

In March, the Health Department announced that each air-monitoring site for fine particulate pollution met all federal standards in 2013 - a first for the county. 

Hacker said they are proud of efforts to reduce pollution in Allegheny County, but they know that there’s still work to be done.

She said the boilers and woodstoves will be disposed of properly. 

“They will be destroyed and whatever can be recycled will be recycled,” Hacker said. “The stoves and boilers actually are processed by Tube City IMS and its recycling center in West Mifflin,” Hacker said.

The woodstoves and boilers can be turned in May 17th from 1 to 4 p.m. at the swimming pool parking lot on South Ridge Drive in North Park, but you must register in advance by calling 412-578-8106 or visiting the county’s website.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 1, 2014

Allegheny County to offer incentives to quit using woodstoves, wood-fired boilers

April 1, 2014 10:08 AM

By Kaitlynn Riely / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

The Allegheny County Health Department will offer cash incentives to county residents who turn in woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers that do not meet national emission standards.

"Allegheny County has recently hit significant milestones in its air quality and we want to continue to encourage further improvements," County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement today.

Last month, Mr. Fitzgerald and the health department announced that, for the first time, every air monitoring site in Allegheny County met the federal standard for fine particulate pollution.

The county offered the woodstove and boiler return program last year, and is offering it again through a $75,000 grant from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund, a news release from the county said.

“We have created these bounty programs in response to an increasing number of citizen complaints about wood-burning emissions and to help reduce the amount of smoke and fine particulate pollution that come from using such old wood-burning equipment,” Health Director Karen Hacker said in a statement. “Together, we can make a difference in reducing or eliminating fine particulate pollution.”

The Health Department will provide $500 for as many as five non-Phase II outdoor wood-fired boilers and a $200 gift card for as many as 200 uncertified woodstoves.

The gift cards are for Home Depot, Lowe's, Kmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, GetGo and Giant Eagle.

Allegheny County residents must register by May 9 for the program by calling 412-578-8106 or visiting www.achd.net/air/bounty.

Those who register must turn in their woodstoves and boilers between 1 and 4 p.m. May 17 at the swimming pool parking lot on South Ridge Drive in North Park. Items will be processed by Tube City IMS at its West Mifflin Recycling Center, the county said.

Last year, 59 woodstoves and one outdoor wood-fired boiler were turned in through the program.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 2014

February 2014

February 23, 2014

Health, Environmental Groups Petition DEEP For Wood Smoke Air Standards

By John Voket

Source: The Newtown Bee

Sunday, February 23, 2014

 

Residents from Newtown and across the state who have filed complaints about outdoor wood-burning furnaces in their neighborhoods with a state-based environmental advocacy organization may be breathing easier soon.

The American Lung Association of the Northeast, the Sierra Club of Connecticut, and Environment and Human Health, Inc (EHH) are submitting a legal petition to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) asking that agency to set regulatory air standards for residential wood smoke emissions.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment has also submitted a letter to the CT DEEP calling for strong action from the agency on this issue.

Residential wood-burning devices, including outdoor wood furnaces and indoor wood stoves, are emitting hazardous air pollutants that pose well-documented health risks to those that are exposed to their emissions.

The CT DEEP has generated a map that documents the wood smoke complaints that have come to it from all over the state from people who are being harmed by their neighbor’s wood smoke. This map clearly shows how widespread the wood smoke emissions problem is in Connecticut.

Among the complainants is Newtowner Richard Creaturo, who lives on South Main Street.

“There is an outdoor wood furnace 100 feet from my home,” Mr Creaturo wrote in a 2010 filing with EHH. “It is comforting to know I am not the only one living this nightmare. The outdoor wood furnace is less than 100 feet from my house (and it’s huge!) The smoke gets into our house. The smoke smells like an old apartment house incinerator!! It’s disgusting.”

In neighboring Weston, Suzan Converse wrote that a neighbor across the street operates an outdoor wood furnace and it has become “an extreme disturbance and problem in our lives.”

“Once he begins using his furnace in the fall I can no longer open my windows to get fresh air, in fact, my house is always contaminated by his wood smoke,” she wrote. “I also cannot hang any laundry out on my line because it will get completely smoked out and thus I am forced to use more energy with my clothes dryer.”

Ms Converse stated that the people who sold her family their home moved because one of the owners had a terminal lung condition to the extent that he used oxygen. She wondered if the localized wood furnace emissions exacerbated the former homeowner’s health situation.

No Current Rules

Currently, Connecticut has no air standards that pertain to residential wood smoke emissions, and therefore the people that are burning wood can put out as much smoke in a neighborhood as they choose.

Outdoor wood furnaces (OWFs) are particularly polluting. The CT DEEP’s own fact sheet about OWFs says “they are harmful to the environment and to human health and they produce a lot of thick smoke which, in addition to being a nuisance to neighbors, has serious health and air pollution impacts.”

David Brown, ScD, public health toxicologist, states that, “Connecticut has not been able to address the serious health issues of wood smoke exposures. Complaints from people being harmed by breathing in their neighbor’s wood smoke have come into the DEEP from all corners of the state. It is time for Connecticut to adopt wood smoke air standards that will help protect the public’s health, much as the State of Washington has done.”

Today, in Connecticut and in many states, there are many families being made sick from breathing in wood smoke on a continual basis from neighbors’ wood burning.

Among the related ailments are asthma, sinusitis, and pneumonia.

Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health, Inc, said, “Wood smoke has become the new ‘second-hand-smoke’ and must begin to be regulated in a way that protects the public’s health.”

She said in a release that many who are exposed to the emissions report they are spending large amounts of money on health-related illnesses to the wood smoke exposures, and that they cannot sell their homes due to the wood smoke that surrounds their properties and gets into their homes.

Seymour resident William Kusmit wrote to EEH saying that he and his wife continue to experience problems from being in contact with and breathing the exhaust from a neighbor’s wood-burning device.

“This results in physical symptoms such as causing eyes to burn, congestion, and chest discomfort,” according to Mr Kusmit. “The congestion and chest discomfort lasts for several days. I am also concerned about the long-term health consequences of being exposed to this smoke. I have coronary artery disease and my wife has multiple sclerosis.”

Statutes ‘Long Overdue’

The Seymour couple follow strict guidelines to try to maintain their health but are nonetheless exposed to the toxic elements of wood smoke, which adds to their health problems.

“I believe the time for laws governing wood smoke emissions is long overdue,” Mr Kusmit wrote. “I have done what I can to try to keep the smoke out of the house such as putting plastic over the door going into the garage, sealing windows etc. but of course when we open the front door the smoke comes right into the house. My wife and I have had to wear masks when going from the house to the car because of the strong exhaust fumes.

“I feel as though we are being poisoned by the smoke from my neighbor’s woodstove and there is nothing in Connecticut law to help us,” he added.

“Wood smoke particles are so small that windows and doors cannot keep them out,” Ms Alderman stated. “This is why people are exposed to wood smoke in their homes and why they cannot find relief.”

Edward Miller, senior vice president for public policy at American Lung, Northeast, said wood smoke has many of the same components as cigarette smoke.

“Yet, cigarette smoke is highly regulated, while wood smoke is almost completely unregulated. This must stop,” he said

The petition to the CT DEEP asks that it adopt wood smoke air regulations similar to those that the State of Washington has had for many years.

Ms Alderman and many supporters of emissions standards believe that if Washington State can enact standards, it indicates that standards for Connecticut are reasonable and attainable.

“If Connecticut fails to promulgate wood smoke air standards, it will mean that homeowners will continue to install hundreds of wood-burning appliances that are far more polluting and harmful than they would be if heath protective wood smoke air standards were in place,” Ms Alderman said.

By state statute, DEEP has 30 days to either deny the petition (providing written reasons for doing so) or initiate a rule-making proceeding. The petition went to the DEEP on Tuesday, February 4.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 23, 2014

Middletonians check out Governor Wentworth Regional (OWBs discussed)

By JOANN COSKIE

tjc@tjcoskie.com

Sunday, February 23, 2014

 

On March 11, Middleton voters will decide not only on the school budget for 2014-15, but on issues which could mean a dramatic change for residents. More on that farther down. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ballot forms for electing town officials will also contain a proposed amendment to adopt an article regulating installation and operation of outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters. If you heard that it is about indoor wood stoves or fireplaces, you heard incorrectly.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 20, 2014

Petition would regulate wood smoke

By Lillian Childress

Source: Yale Daily News

Thursday, February 20, 2014

 

Among car exhaust, factory fumes and coal-fired power plants, there is one source of air pollution that Connecticut residents know little about: emissions from residential wood smoke.

Earlier this month, The American Lung Association of the Northeast, the Sierra Club of Connecticut and Environment and Human Health, Inc. submitted a legal petition to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) asking that the department set up regulatory standards for residential wood smoke emissions. These emissions come from residential outdoor wood furnaces — sheds connecting to a house that burn wood for purposes of heating — that have been shown to emit dangerous quantities of toxic particles. 

“We call it the new secondhand smoke,” said Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health, Inc.

While wood smoke emissions have many of the same components as highly regulated cigarette smoke, wood smoke is almost totally unregulated, both federally and in Connecticut, Alderman said.

The petition is not a petition in the traditional sense, but rather a legal petition that only the three groups have signed. It requests that Connecticut adopt the same wood smoke regulations that the state of Washington put in place around 10 years ago. Under state law, DEEP has 30 days to respond to the petition. 

A spokesman for DEEP did not respond to a request for comment.

The type of outdoor wood-burning furnaces that produce these emissions have already been banned in 18 towns across the state, including Hamden and North Haven. The DEEP website currently features a map that catalogs all the complaints from people who were harmed by neighbors’ wood smoke in Connecticut since the year 2005. 

“The primary problem is that wood smoke emissions produce damage to the lungs, particularly of children. They contain chemicals that cause cancer,” said David Brown, a public health toxicologist with Environment and Human Health, Inc.

Wood smoke emissions do not travel very far in the air, but are rather a type of point source pollution, which means they are detrimental in immediately surrounding areas, according to Martin Mador YC ’71 FES ’02, legislative and political chair for the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club. Mador said that wood smoke emissions are not only a problem in Connecticut, but across the country. If the state adopts these regulations, it will join the handful of other states across the nation that regulate wood smoke emissions. 

While New Haven does not typically have problems with pollution caused by wood smoke emissions — wood-burning furnaces are usually installed in rural areas — it still may affect the city indirectly. In 2012 the state of Connecticut’s asthma identified New Haven as having the highest rate of asthma-related hospitalizations in the state.

“Even if wood smoke is a relatively minor source of air pollution in our city, we should keep in mind that it is being added ‘on top of’ these other existing sources of pollution, and therefore may be a contributor to the much greater rates of asthma we see in parts of our city,” Mark 

Abraham, executive director of Data Haven, said in an email.

According to Brown, the issue has been brought to the state legislature’s attention numerous times over the years, yet no regulatory standards have been created. The push back has come from both homeowners who are reluctant to adjust their stoves to new regulations and political lobbies which have a stake in the wood stove industry, Brown said.

“[The wood stove industry’s] argument has generally been that it’s a cheaper way to burn heat for your house, and the new devices are much cleaner than the older devices,” Brown said. “I think part of the issues is also people saying ‘I can do anything in my yard that I want to do.’” 

For now, Alderman said, the groups who submitted the petition will wait and see if the DEEP has any objections.

In 2005, DEEP released a fact sheet that officially stated that emissions from outdoor wood furnaces are harmful to human health.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 19, 2014 (opinion)

Our View: Bill would keep us among dirtiest states

By/Source: The Star Press

February 19, 2014

 

Indiana will never be confused with the Garden of Eden. Sure, there are many areas where natural beauty abounds, and the state’s air, land and water are cleaner than ever. But the state is also one of the nation’s most polluting, and will remain so if a bill in the Indiana Legislature passes.

In fact, if HB1143 clears the Indiana Senate, Indiana may actually turn back the clock on environmental progress.

That’s because HB1143 would prohibit the state’s executive branch, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, from enacting policies that are more stringent than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This misguided bill would put the health of Indiana citizens at risk, not to mention our environment, because the EPA has few if any regulations in place for some environmental hazards. For example, there are an 8,000 estimated outdoor wood-burning furnaces in the state used to heat homes and other structures. IDEM has regulations to limit their pollution, the EPA does not. Think about that if your neighbor installs a furnace and the wood smoke constantly wafts into your house. Or, consider the rural neighbor concerned that his groundwater might be polluted from the manure stored at a confined animal feeding operation just down the road. The state can regulate that, EPA does not.

Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw, drafted the bill because he believes existing EPA regulations already unduly burden business and industries in Indiana. Taken at face value, this rule cedes state power to the federal government, all to protect business and corporations, not the citizens.

The bill also would make the legislative branch the seat of issuing regulations. But with lawmakers out of session 75 percent of the time and more focused on budgets and same-sex marriage, it’s doubtful that body could move in a timely and decisive manner.

HB1143, also known as the “no-more-stringent-than” bill, has been assigned to the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, where a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24. Rep. Local lawmakers Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, voted against the bill when it was before the House Environmental Affairs Committee. Rep. Jack Lutz, R-Anderson, supported it.

Indiana, sadly, ranks near the bottom of all states for a clean environment, but those “burdensome” regulations allow us to be No. 1 when it comes to dumping toxic chemicals into the waterways, 27 million pounds a year. That’s much more than the second-ranked Virginia at just more than 18 million pounds.

A 2007 Forbes study ranked Indiana 49th in the nation for “Greenest States.” Only West Virginia was worst. The study weighed six categories equally for carbon footprint, air quality, water quality, hazardous waste management, policy initiatives and energy consumption. Said Forbes about the states at the bottom of the list: “All suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”

Especially if HB1143 passes.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 18, 2014

Fire In Town of Pine River

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Source: Northwoods Radio 810

 

A pole building is a total loss following a fire last night in Lincoln County. 

That fire occurred at just before 8pm last night on High Ridge Road in the Town of Pine River. A neighbor called the fire in, initially believing the home was on fire. A second call indicated that an outdoor wood burner was on fire.

The first on the scene encountered the large pole shed and attached wood burner engulfed upon arrival. 

Crews were able to extinguish the fire, but the building is considered a total loss. No injuries were reported. The person living at the property said they became aware of the fire when the lights in the home flickered.

Evidence indicates that the fire began in that wood burner.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 18, 2014

Fire destroys pole shed, wood furnace

Source: WSAU News Radio 550

By

 

MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) -- Fire caused heavy damage to a pole shed and attached outdoor wood burning furnace near Merrill Monday evening. 

The fire was at a home in the town of Pine River on High Ridge Road. A neighbor spotted the fire and called 9-1-1. Shortly after that, a resident noticed the fire when the house lights started flickering.

The fire started at about 7:45 p.m. The pole shed was totally destroyed by the blaze. 

Pine River firefighters were assisted at the scene by the Hewitt, Texas, and Merrill fire departments, along with a Wisconsin Public Service utility crew.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 18, 2014 (video)

Henrico neighborhood at odds with neighbor's wood boiler

Posted: Feb 18, 2014 5:32 PM CST

Source: WWBTV 12

By Diane Walker

 

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -Outdoor wood boilers are legal, but it's fueling hostility in one Henrico neighborhood, pitting one man at odds with his neighbors.

Morshedi Court is a community of 15 homes on six acres in Henrico. A group of neighbors say the smoke is hurting their health and damaging the quality of life. 

"It just makes my lungs so I can't breathe," said Bart Alder. "It actually blows right into my front door. So, I just ripped my front door out and put a hermetically sealed door on there to stop it from coming in."

Group leader Thomas Tutor says the outdoor wood boiler is 80 feet from his home. 

"I get woken up at night with heart races," said Tutor. "My heart starts racing. My eyes are very itchy and it's almost like breathing chalk dust inside the house."

Tutor says his firefighter neighbor, Ray Wills, first lit the wood boiler Valentine's Day 2011. The equipment resembles a shed with a smoke stack that burns wood to heat water or a water mixture that's piped underground to heat the home.

"I believe some of the statements have been exaggerated," said Wills. 

"Sometimes you don't smell it, but you are affected by it. I feel it in my throat all the time," said Lucha Hogwood, who wants the burner shut down.

Wills says the concentration of pollutants is the same as burning a wood stove insert, which are regulated. Outdoor wood boilers are not. He says he's being as considerate as he can to reduce the smoke. 

"I load it before sunrise. I load it after sunset. I only burn it for a very limited time during the year. There's nothing more I can do to reduce it," said Wills.

"What we really want is for the county to step up...set regulations for these, so if we do get this removed, that another neighbor won't put it in," said Tutor. 

Tutor installed a camera trained on Wills' backyard, recording the smoke stack. He believes it puts out high-particulate pollution.

There's nothing illegal here, says Wills, and no ordinances against it. 

"We're being demonized, I think, over this... made to feel very unwanted in this neighborhood, and part of it is because nobody came and talked to us," said Wills.

Right now, the group is consulting an environmental law firm about air quality testing. Residents are trying to get a public nuisance ban. 

Both sides have gone before a special grand jury, but so far, Henrico County is not trying to shut it down. The state Department of Environmental Quality says it's small, doesn't need a permit, and doesn't violate any air quality standards.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 13, 2014

 

Petition filed over air quality standards

By Monroe Courier Staff

Posted: February 13, 2014

 

The American Lung Association of the Northeast, the Sierra Club of Connecticut, and Environment and Human Health, Inc. are submitting a legal “petition” to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) asking that agency to set regulatory air standards for residential wood smoke emissions.  The Connecticut Fund for the Environment has submitted a letter to the CT DEEP calling for strong action from the agency on this issue. 

Residential wood-burning devices, including outdoor wood furnaces, indoor wood stoves and other wood burning devices are emitting hazardous air pollutants that pose well documented health risks to those that are exposed to their emissions. The CT DEEP has generated a map that documents the wood smoke complaints that have come to them from all over the state from people who are being harmed by their neighbor’s wood smoke.

This map clearly shows how widespread the wood smoke emissions problem is in Connecticut.  At the present time, Connecticut has no air standards that pertain to residential wood smoke emissions, and therefore the people that are burning wood can put out as much smoke in a neighborhood as they choose. 

Outdoor wood furnaces (OWFs) are particularly polluting.  The CT DEEP’s own fact sheet about OWFs says  “they are harmful to the environment and to human health and they produce a lot of thick smoke which, in addition to being a nuisance to neighbors,  has serious health and air pollution impacts.”

David Brown, Sc.D., Public Health Toxicologist states that, ”Connecticut has not been able to address the serious health issues of wood smoke exposures. Complaints from people being harmed by breathing in their neighbor’s wood smoke have come into the DEEP from all corners of the state.  It is time for Connecticut to adopt wood smoke air standards that will help protect the public’s health, much as the State of Washington has done.” 

Today, in Connecticut, and in fact in many states all over the country, there are many, many families that are being made sick from breathing in wood smoke on a continual basis from their neighbors’ wood burning.

People are reporting they are sick with asthma, sinusitis, pneumonia and many other wood smoke related illnesses.  They also report that they are spending large amounts of money on health related illnesses to the wood smoke exposures.  They also report that they cannot sell their homes due to the wood smoke that surrounds their property and gets into their homes. 

Wood smoke particles are so small that windows and doors cannot keep them out.  This is why people are exposed to wood smoke in their homes and why they cannot find relief.

“Wood smoke has many of the same components as cigarette smoke.  Yet, cigarette smoke is highly regulated, while wood smoke is almost completely unregulated.  This must stop,”  said Edward Miller, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at American Lung, Northeast. 

The petition to the CT DEEP asks that they adopt wood smoke air regulations similar to those that the State of Washington has had for many years.

The fact that Washington State has had similar standards for a long time indicates that the standards are reasonable and attainable. 

If Connecticut fails to promulgate wood smoke air standards, it will mean that homeowners will continue to install hundreds of wood burning appliances that are far more polluting and harmful than they would be if heath protective wood smoke air standards were in place.

Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human Health, Inc. said, “wood smoke has become the new ‘second-hand-smoke’ and must begin to be regulated in a way that protects the public’s health.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 12, 2014

Grand Rapids commission decides wood burner, dog, chicken ordinances

By: Karen Madden

Source: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Posted February 12, 2014

 

GRAND RAPIDS — Individual property owner rights versus community rights was the overriding theme of a Plan Commission meeting to discuss outdoor wood burners, dogs and chickens.

Furnaces

Town officials have been concerned about the potential for air pollution caused by outdoor wood burners. Last year, the town was part of a regional air quality study and looked at how many “particles” wood smoke put into the air. The study showed good air quality in the community that wasn’t largely impacted by the outdoor wood burners

The Grand Rapids Town Board and Legislative Committee primarily are concerned with people altering their wood burning furnaces and what happens to the furnaces when owners sell the property, said Jim Scott, Grand Rapids Plan Commission chairman.

 

The test showed the town had good air quality, said Rodney Dorski, Plan Commission member.

“I think we’re doing a whole lot about nothing,” Dorski said.

The Legislative Committee wants a simple ordinance, said Patty Lumby, commission member. The Environmental Protection Agency is holding public hearings Feb. 26 on new standards, Lumby said.

“They’re looking at catalytic converters and whatever else they’ll have so these things will be so clean, we won’t have to worry,” Lumby said.

Those thinking about purchasing a home want to know what is in the neighborhood, said Ron Hett, Grand Rapids.

Commission member Jason Grueneberg said he likes the idea of requiring new owners to upgrade outdoor wood burners when a property is sold but said it would be challenging for town officials to track it.

We’d have to make contact with all the owners,” Hett said.

The commission approved requiring people with outdoor wood burners to have a conditional use permit, meet county ordinances regarding public nuisances and use only licensed repairman to maintain the furnace according to manufacturer’s instruction. People who currently have wood burners will be able to continue their use.

The suggested ordinance language must be approved by the Town Board to become official.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 12, 2014

Putting education in focus (OWBs discussed)

By Emily McPhee, Special to Barry's Bay This Week 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:47:22 EST AM

 

Council also heard a delegation from local residents Louise Chenier and Lynne Cyr who live in Round Lake Centre.

They came to council regarding a concern about their neighbour’s outdoor wood furnace. It stands only 125 feet from their house and Chenier told council that “when the wind turns, [carbon monoxide] comes into our house and we can’t open our windows.” The smoke even turned the side of their house black.

When Chenier and Cyr asked their neighbour to close the furnace he complied, but now that he has sold the property they are concerned that the new neighbour won’t be as agreeable. And Cyr pointed out that they are especially concerned because of the potential health risks it could cause, questioning whether it could even be one of the underlying factors responsible for her cancer.

Chenier and Cyr were hoping that council would pass a bylaw that would prevent the neighbour from using this outdoor furnace since it is so close to their property. “I would like you to have some compassion,” said Chenier.

“Honestly we do have compassion,” replied Visneskie-Moore, “[But] we don’t have a bylaw...we have to make sure we have authority.”

Councillor Kathy Marion questioned whether or not this would be a Ministry of the Environment issue, but Cyr said that she already called them. Apparently they told her that they have gotten many complaints, but the government has not yet passed a law.

Visneskie-Moore said that she would look into it and get back to them once she has more information.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 8, 2014

Old Wood Stoves a Costly Way to Keep Warm, Experts Say

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDay Reporter

Posted: February 8, 2014

 

Although many people use indoor and outdoor wood heaters to save money on fuel costs, burning wood to stay warm during the cold winter months might not be cost-efficient, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency also cautioned that smoke from older wood stoves might pose a serious health threat by increasing air pollution from soot and toxic pollutants. Soot, also known as fine particle pollution, has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma. 

The EPA explained in an agency news release that old, uncertified wood stoves give off more air pollution than pellet or gas heaters. In addition, updated EPA-certified wood stoves use one-third less wood than older models and produce up to 60 percent less air pollution while generating the same amount of heat.

EPA experts also said most hydronic heaters, which usually burn wood outside a home to heat water that is piped inside, are less efficient than other home-heating appliances. Some of these heaters might also produce an excessive amount of smoke, which can negatively affect neighbors. 

The EPA established a program in which manufacturers can voluntarily make cleaner versions of hydronic heaters. The newer models resulting from this program are roughly 90 percent cleaner than older appliances.

There are about 10 million wood stoves and more than 240,000 hydronic heaters in the United States, the EPA said in the news release. The agency is encouraging change-out programs that would assist consumers in trading in their old, inefficient wood-burning appliances for newer models. 

The EPA also issued a proposal to update standards for new wood stoves and heaters. Under these revised guidelines, the next generation of appliances would be an estimated 80 percent cleaner than the models currently being made.

A public hearing is scheduled to take place on Feb. 26 in Boston. The EPA said it hopes to get the public's input on its proposal.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 6, 2014

No more fires in Perth without a permit

By: Desmond Devoy

Source:Perth Courier

February 6, 2014

 

If you want to light an open fire or campfire in Perth, you will soon need to get a permit and give the fire department a head’s up of at least 12 hours before your first fire of the season.

“You can’t just throw an old tire on the ground and start a fire,” said Perth fire Chief Steve Fournier in presenting the town’s new fire by-law at the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Campfires need to be set on bare rock or non-combustible materials, and have a spark arrestor screen around their diameter. Fire pits, fire rings, barrels, fireplaces or incinerators are not approved devices. “Approved devices” are defined by the bylaw as a “commercially manufactured burning device to confine a fire complete with a mesh spark arresting screen to control sparks. Such device(s) may be called, but not limited to, chimineas or fire bowls.”

When it’s “11 p.m., that’s when the party stops,” added Fournier, as that is when campfires must be extinguished, and when the town’s noise bylaw comes into effect. This bylaw also covers Last Duel Park, though it acknowledges that burning rings are still used there. Fire permits are not required at Last Duel Park for campfires in designated areas.

Open-air fires are also not permitted from sundown to sunup, but propane barbecues are not covered under the ban. Fires are also not permitted on windy days, when winds are over 10 km/h, and outdoor wood burning furnaces are also not allowed.

During the test period, “we have had 50 applications. We approved 45 of them,” said Fournier.

The five that were not approved were found to be too close to an object, like combustible material, property line, or utility line. The flame also cannot be more than one metre high.

Nuisance smoke was found to be generating the most complaints.

“You should consult with your neighbours before you burn,” said Fournier, who added that fires that create nuisance smoke will also not be tolerated.

Fines are now set at about $195 for any infraction.

“(So) any time I want to light it up (my bowl burner) I have to get a permit?” asked Mayor John Fenik. He was informed that one permit would suffice for the season (expiring Dec. 31 of the year) and it will be free.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 5, 2014

EPA Tips to Help Reduce Health Concerns and Improve Efficiency When Using Wood Heaters

By: David Deegan,  U.S. EPA

Release Date: 02/05/2014

 

With a very cold winter in full swing in New England, many people seek to reduce their heating costs by turning to wood as a cost-saving, renewable source of energy. However, both indoor and outdoor wood heaters may be inefficient and emit more pollutants into the air than heat sources that burn oil or natural gas. By following some wood-burning tips, people can help ensure that wood is burned safely and efficiently, protecting your family’s health and lowering the risk of a chimney fire.

Smoke from residential wood heaters can increase air pollution from soot (also known as fine particle pollution) and toxic pollutants to levels that pose serious health concerns. Particle pollution is linked to a range of serious health effects, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. In some areas of New England, especially in valleys, residential wood smoke significantly reduces air quality in winter months.

To reduce exposure to particle pollution from wood stoves and outdoor hydronic heaters (also called outdoor wood boilers), EPA encourages people to take steps to ensure that wood is burned more safely and efficiently, including burning only well-seasoned wood, and never burning household trash, garbage, or demolition debris.

The best step people can take is to replace their old uncertified wood stove with a cleaner home heating appliance, such as an EPA-certified wood stove, or a pellet or gas stove. These stoves use one-third less wood than older stoves while generating the same amount of heat. They also emit 50 to 60 percent less air pollution than older stoves.

Some homes and businesses are heated with hydronic heaters. These heaters are usually located in outdoor sheds and typically burn wood to heat water that is piped to nearby buildings to provide heat, hot water, or both. Hydronic heaters may also be located indoors and may use biomass fuel other than cordwood, such as corn or wood pellets. EPA notes that most hydronic heaters are less efficient than other home heating appliances, and some produce excessive amounts of smoke that can negatively impact nearby residences. EPA currently has a voluntary program that encourages manufacturers to produce cleaner hydronic heaters. Under this program, some manufacturers have made heaters that are about 90 percent cleaner than typical older units.

Because of the large number of wood appliances throughout the country (about 10 million wood stoves and more than 240,000 hydronic heaters), EPA encourages voluntary change out programs to help consumers upgrade their wood-burning appliances to newer, cleaner units. In New England, since 2009, voluntary change out programs have been implemented in southern N.H., Mass., and Vermont.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 4, 2014

Up in Smoke? Health Impacts from Wood Burning

Released: 2/4/2014 6:20 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Kids & Chemical Safety    

 

With the winter weather still going strong, lots of people will be restocking the wood pile next to their fireplaces and wood burning stoves. Can using a wood burning stove or fireplace pose a threat to my health?

The health impacts of wood burning have received increased attention from the scientific community in recent years. The recent research activity has focused on the role of wood burning in air pollution, its potential health effects and measures to control the negative impacts. Wood burning is used in a variety of settings including homes, schools and industrial settings around the world. It has been used for a variety of purposes, including generating power, heating, cooking and for recreational purposes. The use of wood has increased in the United States for a variety of reasons, including economic factors and efforts to decrease dependence on oil.

When wood burns it releases a complex mixture of chemicals, including gases and particles. The exact nature of the chemicals released varies depending on a number of factors, including what type of wood is burned, if the wood has been treated and how it is burned. Exposures in particularly susceptible populations, including pregnant women, children or individuals with pre-existing lung or heart disease, are of particular concern.

Scientific studies have included research involving exposing humans to controlled exposures to chemicals released during wood burning. During these studies, changes related to inflammation in the body, including the lungs, were seen. In addition, many studies have looked into the health effects from air pollution released from wood burning. Effects observed have included irritation effects (such as eye irritation), small birth weight in babies, increased ear infections and lung inflammation/decreased lung function. Exposures in particularly susceptible populations, including pregnant women, children or individuals with pre-existing lung or heart disease, are of particular concern.

A number of government efforts have been developed to attempt to decrease the negative impacts of wood burning. For example, programs have been set up to encourage users to switch to newer and more efficient wood burning stoves, to use HEPA filters and/or to switch from wood burning to electricity as a power and heating source. However, wood burning remains relatively unregulated, especially compared to other sources of pollution such as cars. For an example of how outdoor wood burners can impact your neighbors, please view a report written by the nonprofit group Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA).

So, it is important for parents to be aware of the potential for health effects from wood burning exposure at home, in schools (such as where wood is used as a heating source) or in the community. Parents should engage in discussions with their children’s’ healthcare providers and review information from available resources, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), including the resources listed below. For example, the USEPA recommends burning dry and seasoned wood that has been stored and covered and using cleaner burning stoves.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 2, 2014

EPA revising wood stove regs

By RICHIE DAVIS, Recorder Staff

Sunday, February 2, 2014

 

Federal environmental regulators have issued tougher rules for residential wood-burning devices, ending long-standing criticism from states that contend the agency’s 25-year-old emissions limits are outdated.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which will conduct a public hearing in Boston this month on its proposed Wood Stove Air Pollution Standards, would limit emissions from new wood stoves and other residential wood heaters, beginning with those manufactured and sold next year. The agency estimates its proposed standards would make the next generation of woodstoves and heaters 80 percent cleaner than those manufactured today, resulting in cleaner air and improved public health. 

The proposal would not affect wood heaters and stoves now in use in homes or being sold in stores.

Fine particulate pollution is made up of solid particles and liquid droplets that measure 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less. The EPA, which now certifies non-catalytic wood stoves if they produce less than 7.5 grams of fine particulate per hour, would see that reduced to 4.5 grams per hour for stoves manufactured after the regulations go into place next year, with that limit reducing to 1.3 grams per hour when the standards tighten in 2019. 

The new standards would affect pellet stoves as well as wood stoves and fireplace inserts.

Outdoor wood boilers, which now have limits imposed by the state Department of Environmental Protection at 7.5 grams per hour, would be limited under the EPA’s new rule at 0.32 pounds per million BTU heat output after the new rule is published and reduced to 0.06 pounds per million BTUs in 2019.

Fine particulates have been linked to heart attacks and reduced lung function, both of which can cause premature death.

In 1988, EPA concluded that pollutants in wood smoke endanger public health and that residential wood heaters must be regulated. The agency also set a performance standard limit for soot emissions by these devices. At the same time, EPA exempted heating devices that fall under the category of “boilers.” These 1988 standards remain on the books today, despite the development of much cleaner-burning stoves and the proliferation of outdoor wood boilers for residential heating. Some states, including Massachusetts, sued over this, citing a 2008 report that outdoor wood boilers can emit about 12 times more particulates than EPA-certified wood-burning stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces.

After the EPA issued a voluntary program encouraging manufacturers to make the outdoor “hydronic heaters” cleaner, some redesigned their products, making them 90 percent cleaner, the agency said in releasing its new standards earlier this year, with more than 40 models already meeting  EPA’s qualification requirements.

“When these standards are fully implemented, EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to comply with these standards, the American public will see between $118 and $267 in health benefits,” the agency said in releasing its new standards in January. “Consumers will also see a monetary benefit from efficiency improvements in the new wood stoves, which use less wood to heat homes. The total health and economic benefits of the proposed standards are estimated to be at $1.8 (billion) to $2.4 billion annually.”

Outdoor wood boilers have not come under EPA regulation, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has been among those pressing the federal agency to publish new regulations.

Glen Ayers, regional health agent for the Franklin County Cooperative Public Health Service, said it remains to be seen whether Massachusetts will update its own rules disallowing outdoor furnaces that fail to meet the new federal standards from being installed in the state.

Although the American Lung Association, which also sued the EPA to issue the new regulations, hasn’t yet released its analysis of the new regulations, organization spokeswoman Janice Nolen said, “We’re delighted that the EPA has issued the proposal. We think they’re long overdue.”

While no hearings are scheduled for this area on the proposed standards, the EPA is accepting public comments for 90 days from their Jan. 3 publication.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 2014

January 29, 2014

EPA's Wood-Burning Stove Ban Has Chilling Consequences For Many Rural People

By: Larry Bell, Contributor

Source: Forbes.com

Posted 1/29/2014

 

It seems that even wood isn’t green or renewable enough anymore.  The EPA has recently banned the production and sale of 80 percent of America’s current wood-burning stoves, the oldest heating method known to mankind and mainstay of rural homes and many of our nation’s poorest residents. The agency’s stringent one-size-fits-all rules apply equally to heavily air-polluted cities and far cleaner plus typically colder off-grid wilderness areas such as large regions of Alaska and the American West.

While EPA’s most recent regulations aren’t altogether new, their impacts will nonetheless be severe.  Whereas restrictions had previously banned wood-burning stoves that didn’t limit fine airborne particulate emissions to 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the change will impose a maximum 12 microgram limit. To put this amount in context, EPA estimates that secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter. 

Most wood stoves that warm cabin and home residents from coast-to-coast can’t meet that standard. Older stoves that don’t cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.

The impacts of EPA’s ruling will affect many families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 survey statistics, 2.4 million American housing units (12 percent of all homes) burned wood as their primary heating fuel, compared with 7 percent that depended upon fuel oil. 

Local governments in some states have gone even further  than EPA, not only banning the sale of noncompliant stoves, but even their use as fireplaces. As a result, owners face fines for infractions. Puget Sound, Washington is one such location.   Montréal, Canada proposes to eliminate all fireplaces within its city limits.

Only weeks after EPA enacted its new stove rules, attorneys general of seven states sued the agency to crack down on wood-burning water heaters as well. The lawsuit was filed by Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, all predominately Democrat states.  Claiming that EPA’s new regulations didn’t go far enough to decrease particle pollution levels, the plaintiffs cited agency estimates that outdoor wood boilers will produce more than 20 percent of wood-burning emissions by 2017. A related suit was filed by the environmental group Earth Justice. 

Did EPA require a motivational incentive to tighten its restrictions? Sure, about as much as Br’er Rabbit needed to persuade Br’er Fox to throw him into the briar patch. This is but another example of EPA and other government agencies working with activist environmental groups to sue and settle on claims that afford leverage to enact new regulations which they lack statutory authority to otherwise accomplish.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 22, 2014

West Valley trio testifies in support of clean air regulations at DEC hearing

By: Weston Morrow, Newsminer

Posted: January 22, 2014

 

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation held its final public hearing on proposed new air quality regulations in the Fairbanks area Tuesday.

The proposed regulations would implement an emission limit of 2.5 grams per hour for wood stoves, pellet stoves and outdoor hydronic heaters in much of the Fairbanks area and would disallow the use of such heaters when airborne particulate matter passes a certain concentration. 

About 50 people filled the City Council chambers at the Patrick B. Cole City Hall building in downtown Fairbanks at the meeting’s start and continued to filter in throughout the 2.5 hour hearing, which started at 11:30 and continued until 2 p.m. Midway through the meeting, the presider paused to say the room had passed its capacity and asked those who had spoken to consider stepping out.

Unlike the first public hearing the evening of Jan. 7, which was marked by hecklers and tension, the hearing Tuesday proceeded with relatively little name calling or personal attacks. Also unlike the first hearing, in which more opponents of the regulations spoke than proponents, the majority of public comments during the second hearing urged the passing of the standards or called for even stricter regulations. 

About 40 people spoke during the comment period. Three high school students from West Valley High School’s environmental club — representing themselves and the club’s several dozen other student members — testified in favor of the regulations.

Tristan Glowa, a senior at West Valley, said the students aimed to represent the voice of youths as a whole. 

Glowa was one of 18 students who also testified in support of clean air regulations last week in front of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly.

In addition to Glowa, West Valley students Kengo Nagaoka and Olivya Veazey testified Tuesday. 

“We are missing school right now to be here because we believe that it is crucial for us to be heard on this issue,” Glowa said. “The science shows that youth are disproportionally affected by PM 2.5 pollution.”

He called for a regulations that compromise between people’s right to heat their homes and their right to clean, breathable air. 

“Just as much as we have a right to warm homes, we have a right to clean air,” Glowa said. “We need to find a balance between these rights, but, out of concern for our health and the health of youth in this town as a whole, we believe  that our right to a healthy environment takes precedence over other people’s right to engage in activities that pollute our air.”

Nagaoka called for a stricter trigger point for wood stove burn bans and emphasized the necessity of publicizing and enforcing the proposed regulations. 

A number of testifiers called for the inclusion of coal burning in the new regulations, citing the emissions of the Aurora Energy power plant on First Avenue in Fairbanks as problematic.

Not all commenters expressed agreement with the regulations, though. Some commenters expressed concerns with the enforcement or one-size-fits-all nature of the regulations. Concern was expressed on several occasions for those who have wood stoves as their sole heating source or for others during times such as power outages when no other viable options exist. 

Others stated that such mandates as DEC’s proposed regulations should not come from state or federal government but should instead be a decision made by local voters in the borough. Borough Assembly member Lance Roberts said the DEC regulations were not the best way to fix the borough’s air quality, saying individual interventions on a “one-by-one basis” would be the best solution.

“Regulation is never the way to do it,” Roberts said, “because it assumes everyone’s guilty, and it punishes everyone because of a few violators.” 

DEC will continue accepting written comments on the proposed regulations until 5 p.m. Thursday. After the close of the comment period, the department will draft a response and decide whether to adopt the regulations, make changes or do nothing.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 22, 2014

 

Health Experts Laud New Woodstove Rules; Stove Makers Doubt They'll Clear the Air

By Ken Picard

Source: Seven Days, Vermont Independent 

Posted 01/22/14

 

Sarah Cosgrove works at ground zero for Vermont asthmatics. The 35-year-old respiratory therapist serves as an asthma educator and tobacco-cessation specialist for Rutland Regional Medical Center. In 2010, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified Vermont as having the highest rate of adult asthma in the country — 11.1 percent of the population suffers from it — Rutland had Vermont’s highest incidence of the chronic respiratory disease. So when Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources issues an air-quality alert for Rutland, as it did on January 9 due to high wood-smoke levels forecast for the following day, Cosgrove and her clients take heed.

“On those cold, cold days, I often hear people complain, ‘I take that first breath and my lungs tighten up all day long,’” Cosgrove said. 

Each day, she visits the homes of Rutland-area asthmatics and sufferers of COPD, a degenerative pulmonary disease associated with cigarette use. Her job is to recommend ways for her clients to breathe easier, such as cleaning up dust, mold and rodent droppings, using inhalers properly and quitting smoking.

Because Rutland also has some of the state’s oldest housing stock, Cosgrove sees a lot of outdated and inefficient woodstoves, the smoke and soot of which can trigger asthma attacks and other acute respiratory problems. She often warns clients, “If you can smell the smoke in your home, it’s not functioning properly.” 

Like many Vermont public health experts, Cosgrove was glad to see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency propose stricter emissions standards on all new woodstoves, pellet stoves and other residential wood heaters. The EPA predicts that the new rules, due to be finalized in 2015 and phased in over five years, would make residential wood-fired heaters burn as much as 80 percent cleaner than those made today.

But will the new rules actually make Vermont’s air significantly cleaner? Two local woodstove manufacturers — Vermont Castings, in Randolph, and Hearthstone Stoves of Morrisville — say not. They contend that the real threats to Vermont’s air aren’t new woodstoves and pellet stoves but the thousands of older models that would not be affected by the new guidelines. 

Those naysayers also contend that the cost of compliance could drive the price of new stoves out of reach for most consumers, while ignoring a greater threat to Vermont’s air quality: coal-fired generating plants in the Midwest.

According to U.S. census figures, Vermont ranks first in the nation for its per-capita use of wood for heat, with at least one in six Vermont households now using wood products as their primary heating source. ANR estimates that the number is even higher, saying between one-third and one-half of all Vermont homes use wood as a heat source. 

Homeowners are not the only ones heating with wood. Nearly one-third of all Vermont schoolchildren attend a school heated by wood or biomass. Burlington Electric’s 50-megawatt McNeil Generating Station burns about 76 tons of locally harvested wood per hour to feed electricity to the grid.

But all that combustion comes at a price. Each year, the Vermont ANR issues an average of three to five air-quality alerts; in 2014, there have already been two. Rich Poirot, ANR’s air quality planning chief, says that most of those alerts occur in winter when the forecast is for clear, cold and calm days in mountain-valley regions, such as Rutland, where temperature inversions trap pollutants.

Since 2009, Rutland has experienced 20 “health advisory days” for sensitive populations. Over that same period, Burlington experienced just three, and Bennington none. The main culprit, Poirot says, is residential wood smoke. Unlike automobiles and oil furnaces, which face strict emissions standards, many sources of wood smoke, such as outdoor wood boilers, have not been regulated. 

Of major concern to environmental health experts are the fine particulates, or PM 2.5, which are tiny particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter. (For comparison, a human hair is about 70 microns across.) These particles can get trapped deep inside the chest, damaging lungs, blood vessels and the heart. They can also be deadly, triggering heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks.

Jane Wolforth, asthma program manager at the Vermont Department of Health, says the new EPA rules will make a difference in cleaning the air. But change will take time, she cautions, in part because woodstoves don’t get replaced very often, and burning habits are ingrained. 

“We do struggle with these cultural, Vermont-specific myths that wood is a ‘green’ source of energy,” she says.

Indeed, despite obvious air-quality concerns, ANR doesn’t try to get people to burn less wood, just to burn smarter. 

“The agency actually supports burning wood for heat,” notes Elaine O’Grady, director of the air quality and climate division. “There’s no expectation on our part that wood burning will go away, but we do support proposals to make wood burning cleaner and more efficient.”

But will the pellet and woodstove industry be able to comply? Dave Kuhfahl is president of Hearthstone Stoves, which employs 50 to 60 people, depending upon the season, at its Morrisville facility. According to Kuhfahl, Hearthstone currently manufactures 16 EPA-certified wood and pellet stoves. He contends that if the EPA’s “draconian” regulations take effect as written, every one those products would be obsolete within five years.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 11, 2014

 

Where there's smoke, there's pollution

By: Robert Miller

Source: Greater Danbury Newstimes

Published 12:09 am, Saturday, January 11, 2014

 

The smoke emanating from outdoor wood-burning furnaces can lie thick and low. Rather than rising and dispersing, it can spread out, leaving smoky particles hanging about.

In a time when indoor cigarette smoking is all but forbidden and greenhouse gases are a common concern, wood furnaces seem like a heating source from another age. But there are 500 to 1,000 of them in use in the state, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection estimates, and they are largely unregulated. 

That is about to change.

The EPA announced Friday that it would regulate the amount of air pollution emitted from wood furnaces, woodstoves, and wood pellet stoves beginning in 2015. 

The new rules would not apply to fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, barbecues or pizza ovens. Existing wood-burning appliances would be grandfathered in, but those manufactured in 2015 and after would have to meet far stricter pollution standards.

"I am very, very pleased," said Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health Inc., a North Haven advocacy group that has lobbied the state to regulate wood furnaces. "We've tried, for the last five years. We've never succeeded." 

The change can't come soon enough for Wilson Converse, of Weston, and his wife Suzan. The Converses live across the street from a wood-burning furnace, and they have measured the particulate level in their home when their neighbor burns wood. It can reach dangerous levels.

And Converse said it's not just his house. The entire neighborhood is being overridden with smoke from the furnace. 

"Everybody," Converse said. "It's 24-7."

The neighbor, who owns the wood furnace, Joe Tassitano, said the complaints won't deter him from using his furnace. 

"I have nothing to say," Tassitano said. "I love wood boilers."

In Newtown, a short distance to the north, Donna Culbert, the town health director, said she gets complaints about wood furnaces on a regular basis. 

"It's definitely out there," Culbert said of the problem.

The issue has been a dirty one for the state. 

The EPA would tighten the new regulations over five years. At the end of five years, the EPA has said, the wood stoves and furnaces on the market will be 80 percent cleaner than those sold today.

These new stoves will burn wood much more efficiently. Those who own them will spend less on wood, saving money on fuel. They'll also reduce the health costs caused by breathing smoky air. 

In all, the EPA has said, the new standards will create a $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion a year economic benefit in the U.S.

 

Varying standards

Alderman said although the EPA is supposed to revisit regulations every eight years, it's been 25 years since the federal government has done so. 

She said a suit brought this year against the EPA by six state attorneys general -- including Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen -- may have focused the EPA's attention on the issue.

The EPA's announcement may also free the legislature to take some action on the issue -- something it's been unable to do since 2005. 

"We've been stuck," said state Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, co-chairman of General Assembly's Environment Committee.

The state Department of Agriculture has generally opposed such regulations, arguing the farmers -- who often cut and burn wood for heat -- have a right to do so. 

But George Krivda, public affairs officer for the department, said the EPA decision may clear the way to get something done in the 2014 session.

"We came very close last year," Krivda said. 

There's no good count of how many wood appliances there are in the state, Robert Girard, assistant director for the air pollution control division of DEEP.

Connecticut -- unlike New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- does not have any standards governing what outdoor air furnaces emit. 

That means furnaces that don't pass muster in those states can be sold in Connecticut.

But state regulations passed in 2005 set some land-use regulations for wood furnaces. They must be built at least 200 feet away from a dwelling that doesn't benefit from the heat it generates. Their smokestacks must be higher than the highest point of any home within 500 feet. They must burn clean, dry wood. 

Again, these regulations only apply to furnaces installed after 2005. Girard said people can still find furnaces in the state with "stubby little smokestacks coming right out of a box."

Outdoor wood furnaces are generally built in small buildings separate from a house. They have boilers that heat water, which is piped into the adjoining house. 

Because they burn wood so slowly, at low heat, they can emit thick smoke with lots of particulate matter.

Alderman said ordinary indoor wood stoves aren't usually a problem. They burn wood at a much hotter temperatures and more efficiently. 

"The problem can be when there a lot of wood stoves in one neighborhood," she said. "Or, if there are now setback rules, your neighbor's wood stove can be 10 feet from your house."

 

Dirty old stoves

Tom Swan, owner of Black Swan Hearth & Gift Shop in Newtown, said that's only true of older stoves.

The existing EPA regulations say indoor stoves can emit 7.5 grams of particulate matter an hour. 

"A cigarette is .5 grams and hour." Swan said.

Old stoves, Swan said, can release as much as 40 grams of smoke an hour. New stoves, he said, are far cleaner. 

"I sell stoves that release .8 of a gram of pollution an hour," Swan said. "That's less than two cigarettes."

Likewise Swan -- who acted as a liaison between the stove industry and the EPA while it worked on 2015 regulations -- said it's the older wood furnaces that are a problem. 

"There are new wood furnaces that are cleaner than a fireplaces," Swan said

By state law, the Connecticut regulations governing distance and height of smokestacks will go off the books once the EPA regulations go into effect. Legislators could prevent that from happening. 

"I suspect it will be the subject of much discussion," said state Rep. Clark Chapin, R-New Milford, ranking Republican on the Environment Committee.

But even after the EPA regulations go into effect, the state will still have inefficient, smoky old furnaces dotting its landscape. 

Converse of Weston knows the furnace in his neighborhood is completely legal. While he's glad the EPA will work to make such furnaces cleaner in the future, "that doesn't help us one bit," he said

Swan said many of Connecticut's neighboring states offer tax incentives to the owners of older furnaces to get them to replace them with cleaner models. 

"The only ones that aren't are Connecticut and Rhode Island," Swan said. "It would help if the state were to do that."

Krivda the issue of incentives is under discussion. 

"We've only offered them a stick," Krivda said of the efforts to ban outdoor furnaces outright. "We could offer them a carrot."

bmiller@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 9, 2014

Hydronic heater regulation is growing focus for Interior clean air advocates

Source: Fairbanks Daily News Miner

January 9, 2014 12:00 am

FAIRBANKS — The state and federal government both are working on tighter limits on newly manufactured wood stoves, pellet heaters and hydronic heaters, but local clean air advocates say it’s disappointing that the last one is on the list at all.

Outdoor hydronic heaters, also known as wood boilers, have been a controversial heating source in the Fairbanks North Star Borough that clean-air advocates say are the cause of more than their fair share of wintertime air pollution.

“We believe that the fact that they’re allowing outdoor wood boilers at all is based on erroneous information,” said Patrice Lee, the co-coordinator for Citizens for Clean Air. “They just need to go.”

Lee, as well as other clean air advocates throughout the country, have argued against hydronic heaters, saying the testing for popular units isn’t accurate and that they put out far more pollution than manufacturers and retailers claim.

Conclusive information on the cleanliness or efficiency of the heaters is hard to come by because the devices aren’t as closely reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency as are wood stoves, which can earn EPA-certification. Hydronic heaters are only eligible to become qualified through a voluntary

program.

Clean Air Fairbanks head Sylvia Schultz, who spearheaded the attempt to ban hydronic heaters in 2011, signed onto a complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that manufacturers of outdoor hydronic heaters have overstated the cleanliness of their devices. 

The letter, which was sent Tuesday, calls on the EPA to demand that manufacturers come clean with consumers about how much pollution is really being emitted by the devices.

It was a similar argument picked up by the attorneys who defended the owners of a hydronic heater near Woodriver Elementary School. The attorney for Andrew and Gloria Straughn argued they had been misled about the cleanliness of the outdoor heater when they installed it. 

The EPA is developing stricter standards that would apply to all hydronic heaters manufactured after 2015 and would tighten dramatically in 2019, but Lee said she’s concerned that existing heaters, which would be excused from the new standards, will continue to pollute the air.

However, hydronic heater owner Jim Slicker, who was the public voice against a 2011 attempt to ban hydronic heaters in the borough, including an effort to cancel the vote, said he still stands by his hydronic heater. He said they require proper operation.

“You need to use the same common sense as someone who has an indoor wood stove, you have to use seasoned wood,” he said. “It’s tough to legislate common sense.” 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 9, 2014

EPA proposes rules on wood burning

Source: Air Quality News

January 9, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a standard for emissions generated by new woodstoves and heaters from 2015.

Under the proposal, the agency suggests the next generation of wood burners would be an estimated 80% cleaner than those manufactured today, leading to improvements in air quality and public health across the United States.

At present, smoke from residential heaters can increase fine particulates in the air – a mixture of carbon monoxide and organic compounds that have been linked to strokes as well as heart and asthma attacks.

The EPA proposal covers several types of newly-developed wood fired heaters, including woodstoves, fireplace inserts, indoor and outdoor wood boilers, forced air furnaces and masonry heaters.

A large amount of residential wood heaters already meet the first set of proposed standards, which would be phased in over a five-year period in order to allow manufacturers enough time to adapt emission control technologies to model lines.

EPA hopes the standard will help counter problems caused by wood smoke, but when finalized it would not cover fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens, barbecues or chimeneas.

The organization will take comments on the proposed standard for 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register, and is due to hold a public hearing on February 26 this year.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 3, 2014

New federal restrictions on wood stoves

By Scott Waldman 

Source: Capital Pro New York

Jan. 3, 2014

 

ALBANY—For the first time in a quarter-century, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed strict new regulations on wood stoves and other wood heaters. 

The new rules will ensure that wood stoves are 80 percent cleaner than those manufactured today, leading to improved air quality. Starting in 2015, the new rules would apply to woodstoves, fireplace inserts, indoor and outdoor wood boilers, forced air furnaces and masonry heaters. It only applies to the manufacture of new heaters, not ones already in use.

Wood heaters, some of which are used around the clock and throughout the year, can increase air pollution, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and soot, also known as particle pollution, according to the E.P.A. 

In October, state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, leading a coalition of seven states, filed a lawsuit against the E.P.A. for violating the Clean Air Act. The suit contended that the E.P.A. failed to limit air pollution emissions from new wood heaters because the federal agency had not taken action in 25 years.

“I commend EPA for taking this long overdue action,” Scheiderman said in a statement. “My office is looking forward to reviewing EPA’s proposed standards for new residential wood heaters and will continue to work with EPA and the other states to ensure that the standards better safeguard public health.” 

E.P.A. officials did not acknowledge the lawsuit in its release announcing the new regulations.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 3, 2014

EPA releases proposed update to residential wood heater standards

By Anna Simet

Source: Biomass Magazine

January 03, 2014

 

The U.S. EPA has released its New Source Performance Standards proposal for new woodstoves and heaters, which go into effect in 2015.

EPA said the proposal, which marks the first time that the standards have been updated since 1988, will make the next generation of stoves and heaters an estimated 80 percent cleaner than those manufactured today, affecting certain wood heaters manufactured beginning in 2015 and not affecting heaters and stoves already in use in homes or currently for sale today.

The agency’s proposal covers several types of new wood-fired heaters, including pellet stoves, which were not named in the previous standards, as well as wood stoves, fireplace inserts, indoor and outdoor wood boilers or hydronic heaters, forced air furnaces and masonry heaters.

Many residential wood heaters already meet the first set of proposed standards, according to EPA, which would be phased in over five years to allow manufacturers time to adapt emission control technologies to their particular model lines.  

John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat, said the proposed rule has few surprises.  "Virtually all the key numbers were included in draft proposed rules shared with industry, states and non-profits during 2013," he said. "It does reflect the much stricter numbers that the EPA developed after states and air quality agencies intervened. Previously, the EPA was considering 2.5 gram per hour (g/h) to be the strictest level. But last year, the EPA floated a 1.3 g/h for all pellet and wood stoves and that is the number that was released today." 

 As expected. the EPA is proposing the wood and pellet stoves initially meet a 4.5 g/h standard, and then meet a much stricter standard of 1.3 g/h five years after promulgation, Ackerly said. "Alternatively, the EPA proposes a three-step process of going to 2.5 g/h after three years and then 1.3 g/h after eight years."

 Similarly, EPA is proposing two options for furnaces and boilers, and Ackerly said the first would establish strict emission limits after five years, the second would have an intermediate step after three years, and then the stricter standard after eight years. "Initially, warm air furnaces would only be held to 0.93 lb/MMBtu, whereas hydronic heaters would be held to .32.  Ultimately, both would need to reach 0.06 lb/MMBtu either five or eight years after promulgation."

Acklery pointed out that both efficiency and CO would have to be recorded and reported, but no minimum standards are set for either, and that to avoid logjams in testing to the new standards, the EPA is proposing “to allow ISO-accredited laboratories and ISO-accredited certifying bodies to increase the availability of laboratories and certifiers. "

Ackerly said the AFGH thinks the proposed rule is reasonable and achievable, and will help move the sector forward. "It will be a challenge and require a lot of innovation, but that will help our industry stay competitive with Europe, instead of falling behind, as we have been," he said.

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold a public hearing Feb. 26 in Boston, and expects to issue a final rule in 2015.

The 355-page document can be viewed here

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 3, 2014

EPA Proposes Updates to Air Standards for Newly Manufactured Woodstoves and Heaters/Updates would make the next generation of woodstoves and heaters significantly cleaner and more efficient

Source: U.S. EPA Press release

Release Date: 01/03/2014


Contact Information: Alison Davis, davis.alison@epa.gov, 919-541-7587, 202-564-4355

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing standards for the amount of air pollution that can be emitted by new woodstoves and heaters, beginning in 2015. The agency’s proposal would make the next generation of stoves and heaters an estimated 80 percent cleaner than those manufactured today, leading to important air quality and public health improvements in communities across the country. The proposal would affect a variety of wood heaters manufactured beginning in 2015 and will not affect heaters and stoves already in use in homes or currently for sale today.

Smoke from residential wood heaters, which are used around the clock in some communities, can increase toxic air pollution, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and soot, also known as particle pollution, to levels that pose serious health concerns. Particle pollution is linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. In some areas, residential wood smoke makes up a significant portion of the fine particle pollution problem. EPA’s proposal would work in concert with state and local programs to improve air quality in these communities.

The agency’s proposal covers several types of new wood-fired heaters, including: woodstoves, fireplace inserts, indoor and outdoor wood boilers (also called hydronic heaters), forced air furnaces and masonry heaters. Many residential wood heaters already meet the first set of proposed standards, which would be phased in over five years to allow manufacturers time to adapt emission control technologies to their particular model lines. Today’s proposal does not cover fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens, barbecues and chimineas.

When these standards are fully implemented, EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to comply with these standards, the American public will see between $118 and $267 in health benefits. Consumers will also see a monetary benefit from efficiency improvements in the new woodstoves, which use less wood to heat homes. The total health and economic benefits of the proposed standards are estimated to be at $1.8 to $2.4 billion annually.

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold a public hearing Feb. 26, 2014 in Boston. EPA expects to issue a final rule in 2015.

For more information, visit:
http://www2.epa.gov/residential-wood-heaters

Full Article: CLICK HERE

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