Guest post written by Yvonne Nanasi
Many of us in New Hampshire burn wood to heat our homes because wood is inexpensive and plentiful. However, the emissions from our wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens. These emissions are now known to harm our lungs, and especially those of our children. Not only are children who are exposed to wood smoke more likely to develop asthma, but the symptoms of those who already have asthma become worse when they’re exposed to wood smoke. In many New Hampshire communities, children with asthma cannot play outside for many days, and wood smoke is the reason.
Fortunately, new technologies are available that significantly reduce emissions from wood stoves, furnaces and boilers, but also enable homeowners to heat their homes using less wood, saving families time and money. Health-protective emission standards for these devices would broaden the market for these technologies and spur even more innovation. Unfortunately, EPA’s standards for wood stoves are over 25-years old, meaning that homeowners have installed thousands of new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves that produced far more dangerous air pollution than cleaner units. In 2012, the American Lung Association sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to “swiftly adopt rigorous, health-protective standards for all classes of residential wood heaters that require the best emission reduction systems.”
In January, EPA finally issued new proposed regulations to reduce pollution from new wood stoves, furnaces, boilers and pellet stoves starting in 2015. The regulations would not affect fireplaces or wood stoves already in people’s homes and businesses, nor will they cover other wood burning devices like fireplaces, pizza ovens and barbecues. The proposed rules would cut pollution from these new devices by 80 percent, and would set the first nation-wide limits on harmful pollution from wood-burning boilers, furnaces and pellet stoves. These standards are based on improved technologies in use today that can greatly reduce the harmful pollution that these devices emit. Manufacturers can and should include this new technology in the products homeowners are buying. In addition to the health benefits provided by the proposed rule, wood heaters meeting the new standards would be more efficient than older ones, meaning homeowners will be able to heat their homes using less wood.
It is important for EPA to hear from citizens that health-protective standards for new wood stoves, furnaces and boilers are needed. EPA will take public comment on the proposed regulations for 90 days, and the agency is holding a public hearing on February 26 in Boston. Voice your support for the new EPA standards. You will be assuring that children and adults breathe healthier air. EPA’s website has more information about these proposed regulations and how to submit comments.
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