What is happening elsewhere?
Launceston, Tasmania. Launceston experiences similar high levels of wood smoke pollution to Armidale, although with a much larger population. A 30-strong expert working party has been researching the problem, and has recommended that emission standards for wood heaters should be lowered to as close to zero as possible, subsidies for electricity should be introduced to encourage reduced dependence on wood heating, and because of the importance to health, recommended banning woodheaters altogether if the wood smoke pollution could not be controlled within five years. An advertising campaign - 'Breathe the Benefits' has also been launched on TV and in the press by Environment Australia.
Christchurch, New Zealand Christchurch
has a serious problem with its wintertime air quality. On a
typical winter's night, 10 tonnes of particulates are produced,
mostly by domestic heating, with only 4% attributed to vehicles.
On March 29, 2001, Environment Canterbury councillors agreed to an air plan that would:
- phase out all solid fuel burning by 2020
- ban open fires or new enclosed solid fuel burners from 2005
- ban existing enclosed solid fuel burners after 15 years of use (but not before 2010).
More details can be found in the media release - An end to air pollution.
For further information, see Environment Canterbury website - What's The Problem.
Palo Alto, California
Fireplaces are a big source of air and even water pollution.
Woodsmoke contributes nearly forty percent of the dioxin
emissions in the Palo Alto Bay Area.
In 1998, the Air District developed a model woodsmoke ordinance for fireplaces and woodstoves as a guidance document for cities and counties that wish to regulate sources of particulate matter (PM) in their communities. As epidemiological studies continue to demonstrate a link between particulate pollution and health risks, including increased mortality, the model ordinance seeks to regulate the largest single stationary source of PM in the Bay Area, woodsmoke. On an average winter day, at some Bay Area locations, as much as 40 percent of the PM pollution comes from woodsmoke. In addition, woodburning generates carbon monoxide and toxic air pollutants such as dioxin.
If adopted by a Bay Area city or county, the ordinance would limit the installation of woodburning appliances in new homes, or renovations of existing homes that involve a fireplace, to pellet stoves, EPA-certified woodstoves or fireplace inserts, or natural-gas fireplaces. For more information, see Spare The Air.
British Columbia, Canada.
The B. C. Ministry of Environment has acknowledged that wood
smoke has become a major cause of air pollution in the area, and
for some British Columbians, the cause of serious chronic health
problems. Fine particulate pollution is now considered the
worst kind of air pollution in B.C. Regulations were introduced
in 1994 requiring all new wood heaters should meet low emission
standards, and the use of wood heaters were restricted in some
areas according to weather conditions, including no burn periods.
There was also an education campaign aimed at raising people's
awareness about the serious air quality problems and health risks
from fine particulates and carcinogens in wood smoke, and the
importance of individual efforts to "clear the air", by
proper operation of wood heaters - "Think of your
neighbour's health, not to mention your own. If you simply have
to burn, don't burn when the smoke will linger in an area, such
as on clear and calm nights. Be aware of the "no-burn"
periods in your community, and don't bend the rules!"
Regulations were also introduced to control open burning for land clearing and forestry management. Details of these initiatives can be found at the B. C. Ministry of Environment website http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/ .
Telluride, Colorado, USA. Telluride already
has strict control over woodstove use, including the purchase of
two permits, costing approximately $2,000 in 1989. The 343
currently active permits (approximately 170 stoves), produce
almost half the air pollution during the 5 winter months. Because
of this, the U.S. Environmental Commission has recommended that
wood burning be eliminated by either Sept 1 1997, or Sept 1,
Co-chair of the Envronmental Commission, Jack Wesson stated "There are appropriate places to burn wood, but Telluride, an urban area in a stagnant canyon, is not such a place."
Resident Lou Fanning, who suffers chronic asthma, said you can't even walk down into town sometimes at night because the pollution is so bad. "It definitely effects you", she said about the pollution.
Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA Klamath Falls finally managed to meet the deadline of December 1994 for meeting the previous PM10 air quality standard. The strategies included education, registration of all woodstoves, and forecasting air stagnation conditions into green (use of any woodstove permitted), yellow (only certified woodstoves may be used) and red days (only pellet stoves permitted). A voluntary curtailment program was tried in 1989, but it was necessary to make the program mandatory in 1991. A home weatherization program was also initiated and a replacement program for uncertified woodstoves. 90% of old stoves were replaced by alternative heating sources.
(Un)fortunately for Klamath Falls, new PM2.5 air quality standards came into force in July 1997. Klamath will have have to reduce its woodsmoke pollution by another 60%
Washington State, USA Example of the information Washington State gives its woodstove users, including how to operate your woodstove, that wood must be seasoned for a year before use, free plans for constructing a wood shed, what types of stoves can be used on "yellow days". (All wood burning is prohibited on red days).
The Puget Sound Air Polluton Control Agency, Washington State, employs as Public Educator to explain the problems. The single most important education message the Agency has emphasized is "Woodsmoke is more than a nuisance, it is a health hazard." The Washington Environment 2010 report ranked evironmental threats in the area. The report found woodsmoke to be the state's largest air pollutant and air pollution the state's most pressing environmental threat. One of the committes's recommendations for air quality improvements was to "phase out residential wood burning and inserts."
King county, Washington State, also has requirements, since 1991, that all new or substantially remodelled houses have an adequate source of heat other than wood. All non certifed woodstoves must be removed before a house can be sold. The regulations also govern how users store their firewood. Only seasoned firewood may be burned. Firewood dealers must be licenced and they must alert buyers if the moisture content is greater than 20% The regulations also authorise the Department of Public Health to institute a proficiency test for woodstove operators.
Washington State law prohibits chimney smoke in excess of 20% opacity at any time. Citations are issued whenever inspectors observe smoke exceeding state standards. Fines range from $100 for a first offence to $250 for a second offence.