Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

Public Awareness and Reasearch of Outdoor Wood Boilers



As you may be aware the Freedom of Air website has not been updated for an extended period of time. After receiving comments via email and telephone we have once again decided to update the content of this page and post frequent updates with the newest news stories, research, and laws that are current to Outdoor Wood Boilers . We simply ask for you to be patient as we "catch up" on basically the last 2 years of content. We will produce our best effort to update the NEWS section of this site with a weekly update. We also invite you to visit us on Facebook as we will make every effort to update that page as well. At this time we are not going to maintain the guestbook application on this site, because in itself that is a very time consuming task. Please also feel free to visit our Quotes and Blog pages as we will have at minimum monthly post for each. 

Again, we ask that you be patient as we edit the site, our ultimate goal is to simply make everyone aware and educated about Outdoor Wood Boilers, and to let those who are involved in an issue to have a resource of information at their disposal.

Finally, we invite you to read our short message on the FAQS page of our current status with the OWB we were exposed to and our time away from working on this site.



APRIL 26, 2012: Smoke won’t clear on outdoor wood burner issue

MARCH 27, 2012: Smoke gets in too many eyes; Connecticut should regulate emissions from outdoor wood furnaces

APRIL 12, 2012: Uncertified outdoor wood boilers must be retired

MARCH 22, 2012: Planning board could reconsider outdoor furnace ban


News 2012




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

December 27, 2012 (press release)- OWBs Discussed


American Lung Association's "Healthy Air Agenda" Calls on the Obama Administration to Protect the Air We Breathe


WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

-- The American Lung Association's new report "Protect the Air We Breathe: The Healthy Air Agenda" identifies the progress made in the United States on improving air quality, despite repeated interference from Big Polluters and members of Congress, and highlights the extensive work still necessary to protect the Clean Air Act and the health of millions of people across the country.

 Air pollution remains a pervasive public health threat in the US, with more than 124 million Americans still living in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. The Lung Association's "Healthy Air Agenda" details the critical next steps the Obama Administration must take to defend the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to ensure all Americans can have air that is safe and healthy to breathe.

 "Despite efforts by Big Polluters and their allies in Congress, we've made great progress as a nation to improve air quality," said Janice Nolen , Assistant Vice President of National Policy and lead author of the report for the American Lung Association. "Still, too many people suffer and die early because the air is not clean enough. The Obama Administration must continue to defend the Clean Air Act and the EPA's ability to implement the law."

The American public has voiced its support of the lifesaving Clean Air Act and the EPA's efforts to update and enforce clean air standards, including soot standards, smog standards, and carbon and mercury emissions from power plants. 

"The Healthy Air Agenda" lists 17 steps that are needed to continue improvements in air quality and protect public health. Some of those who are most vulnerable to air pollution include children, seniors, individuals with lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, people with low incomes, and those who work and exercise outdoors.

These lifesaving steps include:


Clean up coal-fired power plants – Coal-fired power plants are a major source of hazardous pollutants and the single largest producer of greenhouse gases. Many of these pollutants, such as mercury, benzene, dioxins, arsenic and lead, can cause cancer and cardiovascular disease; harm the kidneys, lungs and nervous system; and even kill.

Strengthen the outdated ozone standards – Ozone (smog) is one of the most dangerous and widespread pollutants in the nation. In 2011, the Obama administration failed to update ozone pollution limits, violating the Clean Air Act by not setting a standard that adequately protects public health. Strengthening these standards to levels that the law requires will help prevent thousands of premature deaths in the United States each year.

Clean up gasoline and cars – Emissions from cars and light trucks are a major source of dangerous air pollution. The EPA needs to issue new standards to control ozone-forming and particle pollution from passenger vehicles by reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline and set fleet-wide emission limits on new vehicles.

Clean up oil and gas production – Methane is a highly potent climate pollutant, with warming effects almost 25 times that of carbon dioxide. The EPA must take steps to clean up the methane leaks and venting from all oil and gas sources. Cleaning up natural gas (which is mostly methane) venting, and leaking components of this industry can have almost immediate positive effects on public health and the climate.

Clean up wood-burning – Residential wood burning devices, like outdoor wood boilers and stoves, are the largest residential source of particle pollution. Emissions of harmful air pollutants from wood burning can have significant health impacts on users and their immediate neighbors. The EPA is currently reviewing the standards and needs to update them to reflect new technology and require that all wood burning devices burn cleaner to reduce impacts on public health.

Fund the work to provide healthy air – The EPA along with State and local air pollution agencies are essential parts of the national infrastructure that cleans our air and protects the health of our communities. But ever-tightening budgets jeopardize their work. Increased funding will enable them to effectively monitor air quality, implement critical air quality programs to protect public health and meet national clean air goals.

Protect and enforce the law – Since 2011, some in Congress have repeatedly attempted to target the Clean Air Act's lifesaving protections from dangerous air pollution. The Clean Air Act is one of the most successful public health laws in history. Congress must oppose all attempts to weaken, block, or delay its public health safeguards. Without the Clean Air Act, millions would be put at risk of more asthma attacks, reduced lung function, complications for those with lung disease, and even premature death.


"The Clean Air Act says the health of everyone should be protected. The American Lung Association will continue to fight for that protection," said Nolen. "Our 'Healthy Air Agenda' calls out specific next steps to protect public health. If Congress and Big Polluters continue to interfere, then they are not for public health."


About the American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1 800 LUNG USA (1 800 586 4872) or visit


SOURCE American Lung Association

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 26, 2012

Hanover Township Council bans wood-fired boilers

December 26, 2012|By Douglas Graves, Special to The Morning Call


Add Hanover Township in Lehigh County to the list of municipalities regulating outdoor wood-fired boilers. Council last week voted 5-0 to ban the systems entirely.

"We didn't want to see them get started here," Councilman Bruce Paulus said.

He said the wood-fired heating systems cause smoke that can cover whole neighborhoods.

Council held a public hearing on the matter but no one stepped forward to speak for or against the measure.

The law doesn't apply to in-home fireplaces.

Last month, South Whitehall Commissioners voted to bar outdoor wood-fired boilers because of their emissions.

Earlier this year, Lower Macungie Township passed an ordinance that allows wood-burning boilers in agricultural preservation and rural zoning districts on properties of 3 acres or more. 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 20, 2012- OWBs Discussed


Findlay supervisors OK two new garages to serve corporate center

December 20, 2012 4:58 am

By Andrea Iglar


Also on Dec. 12, Findlay supervisors revised the township's ordinances on gas drilling and on outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Previously, Marcellus Shale drilling was prohibited in all neighborhoods but now gas wells are permitted as a conditional use on residential lots of at least 30 acres in the low-density residential zoning district.

The change means drilling could occur on up to nine properties in the northwestern area of the township near the Beaver County border, Mr. Caruso said. Land pooling is not allowed. 

The zone includes parts of Cork-Bocktown, Ferguson, Potato Garden Run and Clinton-Frankfort roads. The area is bordered or surrounded by agricultural properties, where drilling is allowed. Marcellus development also is permitted in business parks and industrial zones and on airport property.

Officials revised the regulations on outdoor wood-fired boilers to establish a minimum stack height of 12 feet. 

Mr. Caruso said stacks previously had to extend above the highest peak of homes within 150 feet, but that rule was "impossible" to follow due to the topography of Imperial. He said the new requirement applies to all new and existing boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 20, 2012


Fairbanks air quality a dirty shame locals call a community health crisis

By: Suzanna Caldwell | Dec 20, 2012


FAIRBANKS -- Longtime Fairbanks-area resident Suzanne Fenner doesn't have to check the borough's air quality monitoring website to see whether or not pollution is high. She just looks out the front door. When she sees smoke rolling through, she knows she'll be coughing soon enough. 

Fenner, who's lived in Fairbanks since 1986, was shocked to learn recently she'd developed asthma. After being sick off and on for months, her doctor told her the asthma was a direct result of air pollution.

"Sometimes I feel like our days of living in this community are numbered," she said. "We're going to be forced to move away from family and friends. This environment is beautiful, but it's toxic. 

"And that's pathetic."

Fenner and others are fed up with the toxic air quality that persists through much of the winter in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. 

Signs are everywhere.

Neighbors developing asthma. School children unable to play on the playground. Residents leaving the area to protect their health. The smell of campfire drifting through urban areas despite no blaze. A brownish haze blanketing the region on the coldest days, when temperatures can drop 50 degrees below zero, as they have recently. 

But Fairbanks' air quality issues go deeper than a few residents with fireplaces and wood-burning stoves wanting a cozy fire on cold winter days. With high energy prices strangling the region, residents are turning to wood -- the cheapest fuel source -- to survive. Wood smoke, which can make up to 70 percent of the pollution, gets trapped beneath a strong inversion, which lingers when sub-zero temperatures grip the low-lying basin.

That smoke is linked to asthma, heart attack, strokes and premature death.  Tiny particulates wood smoke puts into the air are so small they pass through lung tissue into the blood stream. Children breathing smoky air sometimes have reduced lung function and lower IQs. Health problems can occur even in the short term. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken note and designated part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough as a “non-attainment area” out of compliance with the Clean Air Act. Any day with a 24-hour average of more than 35 micrograms of particulate per cubic meter is considered in violation. Get enough days per year, and an area is considered out of attainment.

On Tuesday, a monitor in North Pole, just south of Fairbanks and one of the borough’s most polluted areas had a reading of over 260 micrograms. The levels of pollution are so high, that at certain points this winter, it's been unofficially   considered some of the worst in the country, on par with some of the worst air quality in the world. By contrast, on Thursday the city of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city with a population nearly 10 times as large, had an air quality index reading of 30 -- meaning there was less than 15 micrograms of pollutants in the air. 

The borough, which encompasses an area roughly the size of Fiji -- has been working for years to clean up its air. If it fails to do so, the federal government will impose its own restrictions, which range from disruptive to draconian. The state could lose federal highway funding, businesses could be turned away and residents of the borough could even be barred from driving downtown during the days when pollution is heaviest.

No doubt Fairbanks, a stronghold of independent citizens who favor small government, would oppose that. But those same small government advocates may be making the issue more divisive than it already is. 

In November, residents voted to strip the borough of all powers to regulate air quality. Proponents of the measure argued that the state already has the authority to regulate air quality and the borough doesn’t need to duplicate those efforts. The measure -- Proposition 3 -- has left the borough scrambling to figure out how to stop the worst polluters.

That same November, the deep cold of an Interior Alaska winter arrived sooner than expected and with it, the pollution trapping inversion. Air quality advisories were issued as early as October. 

The solution to high energy prices and miserable air quality? Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins and other Interior Alaska legislators say natural gas. While multiple proposals have been suggested -- a natural gas trucking project or a pipeline from the North Slope -- both are at least three or four years from ever delivering (the pipeline, which under one proposal would eventually reach Southcentral, in the midst of its own gas supply woes, isn't expected to come online until 2020 -- at the earliest.)

So what happens in the interim? 

Smoky schools

Carrie Dershin's two children attend The Watershed School. It's a school of choice, a charter school with an emphasis on the outdoors and community. Skis and ski boots line the hallways, next to tall forest-green lockers. 

But there's an irony here. The school, which serves about 190 students, is located in a west Fairbanks neighborhood, in a low-lying area near the Chena River. The school consistently records some of the worst air quality in school district. Terrible air has kept students trapped indoors multiple times this winter.

Dershin is working with other parents on ways the school -- and the community -- can come together to find solutions. 

“Either I can whine and say it sucks, or I can do what I can,” she said.

About 100 people packed the school gym Tuesday night to hear how the borough is trying to cope with the situation. Borough air quality manager Dr. Jim Conner walked residents through the issue. 

Warm weather had lifted an inversion over the city that night and air quality was considered healthy. Still, it was hard to ignore the faint smoky smell inside the gymnasium.

Maps of the area featured big red spots on the hardest hit areas. One the reddest? The Watershed School. 

While the Fairbanks pollution comes from a mix of sources -- including cars and coal-fired power plants and burners -- the borough says 50 to 70 percent of its pollution comes from wood-burning stoves.

Dan Bates admits that he was once ignorant about that. When he moved to Fairbanks in 2007 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks, he didn't know the risks of burning wood. Looking for a cheap fuel source, he'd burn anything he could get -- including chairs and particle board, some of the worst pollution offenders. 

“It smells funny (when it burns,) so you know it's probably not good,” Bates, 29, said.

Over time, he realized the health impacts of that burning as well. The emissions put particles smaller than an E. coli bacterium and 50 times smaller than human hair into the air. Entering the body through the lungs, they pass through lung tissue into the blood stream. 

Dawn Brashear knows those health problems all too well. A school counselor at Woodriver Elementary School, she’s endured years of antibiotic treatments to fight lingering lung infections, two sinus surgeries and a cyst in her sinus pathway. A former aerobics instructor, Brashear had to stop due to her health concerns.

One of Brashear’s colleagues is out of state right now, getting treatment for a blood clot in her lung; the woman’s doctor said it was caused by the pollution. 

Woodriver, located just outside of Fairbanks, is in a neighborhood  of single-family houses. Across the street from the school are two hydronic boilers, suspected to be the main source of Woodriver's pollution woes. The school consistently records some of the highest pollution numbers in the district.

Brashear is the chairwoman of the Woodriver PTA. This year the PTA and principal decided to change the way they report pollution. When someone smells or sees a smoky haze in the hallway, the report it to the principal, who files a report on behalf of the school with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Each time, it sends out 515 complaints – one for each student and staff member attending the school. So far 10 complaints have been lodged – or really 5,150. 

It might be extreme, but it's illustrative of the frustration among residents.

“We are victims of the smoke and no one is protecting us,” Brashear said. 

Dire situation

Glenna Baca says Love, In the Name of Christ -- known as Love, INC, a non-profit that pools church resources in the Fairbanks area -- gets 15 to 20 calls a day from people seeking energy or rental assistance. 

Often one problem just leads to another. Some people cannot afford  their oil bills so, left without alternatives, they try to heat their house with electricity -- some using electric ovens. With electricity an expensive prospect (Golden Valley Electric Association includes a fuel surcharge on every bill) finances can spiral out of control. Baca said people sometimes come to them a day before getting their electricity turned off, asking for help paying their $1,000 bills.

Love, INC, which reaches out to church parishioners to help cover those costs, usually can't help people at that point. 

“There's just no way people can pay those bills,” she said.

Baca said only three church woodlots remain in the area, down from six. The other three were closed down after the wood kept getting stolen. Reports of fuel being siphoned from unoccupied homes have residents locking up their fuel tanks. 

Few are hit harder than the elderly on fixed incomes.

“You're making decisions on whether you're buying prescriptions or heating fuels,” she said. “Those are the ones that aren't always calling for assistance.” 

No simple solutions

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has a series of programs designed to help with air quality. 

    A wood stove change-out program, where residents are reimbursed for replacing older, less-efficient stoves with ones that burn more efficiently.

    A Split, Stack and Store program that encourages wood burners to properly store and dry their wood before winter. Dry wood burns hotter and pollutes less.

Hopkins hopes to introduce an ordinance in January that would offer $30 a day to residents who commit to switching to oil on the coldest days of the year. Whether or not the measure will be approved by the conservative Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly is a question. 

Getting natural gas could be the silver bullet energy fix Fairbanks needs. But how?  And when?

Recently, Gov. Sean Parnell introduced a $355 million financial package -- a mix of bonds and state grants -- that would be used to begin construction on a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope. 

Cindy Heil, program manager with the state division of air quality, has been working with the borough to develop the state air quality implementation plan that will be submitted to the EPA. With the borough's authority to regulate air quality stripped, the state is slowly reworking the plan, hoping to submit it to the federal agency next December.

Heil said as long as the borough can prove it's making a “good faith” effort to improve air quality, the EPA may be lenient with its penalties. 

“It's not an easy process and not a fast process,” she said.  “It takes time. The bureaucracy goes slow and slower the higher you go.”


Statewide implications

Former North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson is headed to Juneau in January to serve as a state representative. 

Interior energy woes are important to Isaacson, who will chair the House Energy Committee.  He regularly hears from residents struggling with energy costs. Isaacson hopes to take their message to Juneau, where he'll work to find relief. It'll come down to developing Alaska's resources in a way that benefits the whole state.

His colleagues from across the state are beginning to realize the dire straits of Interior Alaskans and he's optimistic they'll take action. 

Why? Because if Interior Alaskans have to leave because of the high cost of energy, they aren't moving to Anchorage or Juneau. They're heading out of state, he said. That's a loss not only to the state, but to local economies boosted by their spending.

He said something has to be done, and soon. 

“If we go down, you guys go down, too.”

Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 15, 2012

Smoky Hollow furnaces ordered shut down

Ruling states burning at property would need Hamilton Township's approval to resume.


For The Evening Sun

Posted:   12/15/2012 06:11:35 PM EST


Hamilton Township's Gun Club Road might never again be known by its infamous moniker "Smoky Hollow," following a recent ruling in Adams County court.

At the township's December meeting, township Solicitor Ronald Tomasko said Adams County President Judge John Kuhn has issued an injunction permanently banning Gun Club property owner David Lease from operating any outdoor furnace without township authorization. 

"He won't be able to burn (the furnaces) without township permits and approvals," Tomasko said.

Lease would face substantial fines if he violated the order, township code enforcement officer Ron Balutis said. 

"The order Judge Kuhn issued says that if Lease does burn again he would be held in contempt of court and be fined $500 per day," explained Balutis. 

The outdoor furnaces were also the center of a contempt-of-court charge against Lease on Nov. 2, 2011, when Adams County Judge Michael George mandated Lease stop burning any material that created excessive smoke or fumes in his two outdoor furnaces on the property, Tomasko said.

Tomasko said Lease continued using the furnaces despite the November court order, and in January 2012, Magisterial District Judge Tony Little found Lease to be in contempt for not abiding with Judge George's ruling. 

News that Lease's illegal outdoor furnaces will not again be used allows the entire community to breathe a sigh of relief, said resident Ann Harmon.

"We have been fighting for this for a long time," Harmon said. "Now we can breathe again."

Problems with Lease's outdoor wood-fired furnaces were brought to the township in early 2009. At that time several residents along Gun Club Road complained that excessive smoke and fumes from the wood-fired outdoor furnaces were polluting the air in the densely packed residential neighborhood.

Nearby residents began calling the area "Smoky Hollow" and complained to township officials that they had been plagued by asthma and other respiratory conditions from breathing smoke constantly.

The furnaces were used by Lease year-round to supply heated water directly to at least two homes. Some residents alleged Lease was burning plastic and other debris in the furnaces. And more than 100 township residents signed a petition seeking the township's support to try to get the state Department of Environmental Protection to shut down the furnaces.

DEP said the situation was the township's problem to solve, and the township took legal action against Lease, which resulted in the order for Lease to shut the furnaces down."We can't thank you all enough," Harmon told the supervisors. "We can all breathe fresh air once again."

Lease has also been ordered by the court to pay substantial fines and reimburse the township for thousands of dollars that were spent on legal actions.

Lease earlier this year was ordered to pay the township $7,020 because smoke from the furnaces was found to violate the township's nuisance ordinance.

In other litigation, Lease was ordered to reimburse the township $1,000 in attorney fees racked up during the contempt-of-court case.

More recently, Tomasko said, Lease was ordered to reimburse the township $5,400 for legal fees racked up in the outdoor furnace proceedings.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 12, 2012 (Police Log)


Resident caught in online scam and other highlights from the Boxford Police log for the week of Dec. 3 - Dec. 9 – OWB  complaint made


Tri-Town Transcript

Posted Dec 12, 2012 @ 02:36 PM


Dec. 7


2:59 a.m. CO detector sounded on Partridge Lane. Nothing found by Fire Dept. 

7:30 a.m. Odor of smoke reported on Main Street was coming from an outdoor wood furnace.

9:55 a.m. Agency assisted with investigation on Spofford Road. 

10 a.m. Suspicious car parked on Ipswich Road belonged to a hunter. 

12:39 p.m. Solicitor came in to register on Ipswich Road.

5:12 p.m. Comcast truck was off the road and needed a tow on Kelsey Road. No injuries reported. 

9:16 p.m. A street sign was reported down on Essex Street.

11:12 p.m. Disturbance/gathering reported on Lockwood Lane where a live band was playing and an illegal outside bonfire was burning. It was a party for a 50-year-old resident. Officer spoke to hostess.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 12, 2012- OWBs discussed


Ogdensburg Municipal Alliance Plans Teen Canteen At First Aid Squad

Jennifer Murphy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 • 8:01pm


GDENSBURG, NJ – At the meeting on December 10, it was reported that the Ogdensburg Municipal Alliance is in the planning stages to hold a Teen Canteen at the Ogdensburg First Aid Squad. 

The Municipal Alliance, whose mission is to prevent alcohol and drug abuse, funds programs which have previously been presented at the Ogdensburg Elementary School, and at lunches for senior citizens. 

The First Aid Squad is willing to allow the canteen to meet at its facilities, but at this time, would not have the ability to store a ping pong table or other large items. 

The Council adopted an ordinance to prohibit outdoor furnaces and outdoor wood boilers. There was only one member of the public in attendance af the meeting, as well as The Alternative Press, so the public hearing closed with no comments. At this time, there are no known outdoor furnaces in the Borough. 

Attorney Michael Garofalo, who is also the attorney for Wantage Borough commented, “This created quite an uproar in Wantage because of the smell. Farmers like it because it really cuts your energy costs. You can throw anything in there, including garbage. There was quite a debate about it when this ordinance was passed. It was the largest attended meeting in my tenure there, the largest controversy. People who lived close to it had issues because of the smell.”   

Full Article: CLICK HERE