Saturday, January 04, 2014

EPA Regulating New Wood Stoves

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved Friday to curb emissions of particles and gases from residential wood stoves and other wood-fired heaters built in 2015 or later, an effort to combat pollutants that can present a significant health hazard in parts of the country.

The proposed new rules would require manufacturers of wood stoves, wood-pellet stoves, forced-air wood furnaces, wood boilers, fireplace inserts and masonry heaters to build a generation of devices that burn 80 percent more cleanly than current models. The rules would go into effect in 2015 and become more strict after five years, though the EPA is asking whether they should be phased in over eight years instead.

The new rules do not apply to wood heaters already in use or to residential fireplaces, backyard fire containers or fire pits used by campers and beachgoers. Nor do they apply to smokers, wood-fired barbecues or pizza ovens.

Particulate matter is a big health issue and has been linked to heart attacks and strokes and can aggravate asthma. A number of studies have linked it to premature death among people who suffer from heart and lung disease. Other pollutants in wood smoke include carbon monoxide and organic compounds that contribute to smog.

About 11.5 million U.S. homes use wood for heat, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The EPA estimates that 85,695 wood stoves will be manufactured and sold in 2015.

In places where wood is commonly used for heat, communities are occasionally forced to issue “no-burn” alerts when the concentration of particles in the air becomes too high. Utah banned the use of wood-burning stoves in five counties last month when weather conditions led to high levels of fine particles in the air. Wood is a popular heat source in parts of New England, the upper Midwest and the Northwest.  (Wash Post, 1/3/2014)

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