Learn How to "Burn Wise" this Winter

Thursday, September 30, 2010 - 8:06am

Reduce Fine Particle Pollution from Wood Burning to Save Money, Stay Warm, and Breathe Easier

FREE PUBLIC EVENT:
What:
Live Outdoor Demonstration: Residential Wood Burning for Healthier Indoor and Outdoor Air, A Safer Home and More Economical Fuel Use this Winter. Learn how wood burning affects air quality in Dane County and watch a live demonstration by wood heating experts to improve health and safety and save money this winter season.
When:
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 11:00 - 11:30a.m.

Where:
Top Hat Fireplace and Chimney Specialists, 5117 Verona Rd, Madison, WI 53711

Background Information

As temperatures drop and autumn leaves fall, Dane County residents are beginning to start the first fires of the home heating season. The Dane County Clean Air Coalition and its partners want to remind residents of steps they can take to reduce fine particles and other emissions that pollute the air. Wood smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particle pollution that isn't healthy to breathe indoors or out - especially for children, older adults and those with heart disease, asthma or other lung diseases.

"As we head into winter home heating season we're asking residents do their part to reduce wood smoke pollution, which is a significant source of winter time fine particle pollution in Dane County," said Lisa MacKinnon, Project Coordinator for the Dane County Clean Air Coalition. "By learning how to burn wisely, residents who use wood stoves or fireplaces for heat will protect their homes, their health and the air we all breathe, while reducing heating costs and staying comfortable this winter."

While fine particle pollution can occur year-round, activities such as wood burning, vehicle idling and energy use for heating and lighting that occur in the winter months tend to increase possibilities for higher fine particle levels in the air. A review of our fine particle emissions since 2005 identifies the winter months in Dane County as a peak emission period.
Dane County continues to meet EPA's current air quality attainment standard for fine particle pollution but we need to continue to take steps to reduce emissions as EPA considers further strengthening this standard. So far in 2010, there have been 5 days where a Clean Air Action Day alert was issued in Dane County for fine particle pollution levels that were forecast to exceed the 24-hour federal health standard.
"Wood smoke components such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, have been linked to increased risk of asthma and other health complications among children and adults with underlying health conditions. Whether the smoke comes from a fireplace or an old wood stove, it can affect members of your family and all those neighbors downwind of the source, as well as contribute to overall threats to outdoor air quality," said Dr. Thomas Schlenker, Director of Public Health for Madison & Dane County.

If you're burning wood this winter, you can have a cheaper, safer and healthier fire by following these tips:
• Burn only dry, seasoned wood. It's better for the air and your wallet. Dry seasoned wood is more efficient at heating your home and can add up to significant savings over the winter. Look for wood that is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when hit against another piece of wood or consider using a wood moisture meter.
• Never burn painted or treated wood or trash as these can release a variety of toxic air emissions.
• Maintain your wood stove or fireplace and have a certified technician inspect it yearly. A certified technician can clean dangerous soot from your chimney and keep your wood stove or fireplace working properly, which reduces your risk of a home fire.
• Replace an old, inefficient stove with an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert. These models are more efficient than older models and keep your air cleaner, your home safer and your fuel bill lower, while keeping you warm. An estimated 12 million Americans heat their homes with wood stoves each winter, and nearly three-quarters of these stoves are not EPA-certified. EPA-certified wood stoves emit 70 percent less particle pollution and are approximately 50 percent more energy efficient than wood stoves manufactured before 1990. Go to the U.S. EPA's Burn Wise website for more information: http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/
• If you have another source of heat, do not use your fireplace or wood stove on winter days that are forecast to be Clean Air Action Days for fine particle pollution.
For more air pollution reduction ideas for Dane County residents and employers, visit www.healthyairdane.org.

POSTED BY PUBLIC HEALTH MADISON & DANE COUNTY ON BEHALF OF THE DANE COUNTY CLEAN AIR COALITION

Contacts: 
  • Lisa MacKinnon, Dane County Clean Air Coalition, 608) 266-9063