Groups petitioning DEEP for residential wood smoke standards

Feb 6th, 2014 | By | Category: Featured Story

Health and Environmental Groups Petition the Connecticut DEEP to set residential wood-smoke air standards

Environment and Human Health Inc. has announced that the American Lung Association of the Northeast, the Sierra Club of Connecticut, and Environment and Human Health, Inc. are submitting a petition to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) asking that agency to set regulatory air standards for residential wood smoke emissions. The Connecticut Fund for the Environment has submitted a letter to the CT DEEP calling for strong action from the agency on this issue.

Residential wood-burning devices, including outdoor wood furnaces, indoor wood stoves and other wood burning devices are emitting hazardous air pollutants that pose well documented health risks to those that are exposed to their emissions. The CT DEEP has generated a map that documents the wood smoke complaints that have come to them from all over the state from people who are being harmed by their neighbor’s wood smoke.

This map clearly shows how widespread the wood smoke emissions problem is in Connecticut. At the present time, Connecticut has no air standards that pertain to residential wood smoke emissions, and therefore the people that are burning wood can put out as much smoke in a neighborhood as they choose.

Outdoor wood furnaces (OWFs) are particularly polluting. The CT DEEP’s own fact sheet about OWFs says “they are harmful to the environment and to human health and they produce a lot of thick smoke which, in addition to being a nuisance to neighbors, has serious health and air pollution impacts.”

David Brown, Sc.D., Public Health Toxicologist states that, “Connecticut has not been able to address the serious health issues of wood smoke exposures. Complaints from people being harmed by breathing in their neighbor’s wood smoke have come into the DEEP from all corners of the state. It is time for Connecticut to adopt wood smoke air standards that will help protect the public’s health, much as the State of Washington has done.”

Today, in Connecticut, and in fact in many states all over the country, there are many, many families that are being made sick from breathing in wood smoke on a continual basis from their neighbors’ wood burning.

People are reporting they are sick with asthma, sinusitis, pneumonia and many other wood smoke related illnesses. They also report that they are spending large amounts of money on health related illnesses to the wood smoke exposures. They also report that they cannot sell their homes due to the wood smoke that surrounds their property and gets into their homes.

Wood smoke particles are so small that windows and doors cannot keep them out. This is why people are exposed to wood smoke in their homes and why they cannot find relief.

“Wood smoke has many of the same components as cigarette smoke. Yet, cigarette smoke is highly regulated, while wood smoke is almost completely unregulated. This must stop,” said Edward Miller, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at American Lung, Northeast.

The petition to the CT DEEP asks that they adopt wood smoke air regulations similar to those that the State of Washington has had for many years.

The fact that Washington State has had similar standards for a long time indicates that the standards are reasonable and attainable.

If Connecticut fails to promulgate wood smoke air standards, it will mean that homeowners will continue to install hundreds of wood burning appliances that are far more polluting and harmful than they would be if heath protective wood smoke air standards were in place.

Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human Health, Inc. said, “wood smoke has become the new ‘second-hand-smoke’ and must begin to be regulated in a way that protects the public’s health.”

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One Comment to “Groups petitioning DEEP for residential wood smoke standards”

  1. It seems every jurisdiction is battling this problem at the moment, and I’ll give you a perspective from New Zealand. Wood smoke can ruin a whole country –

    Whilst all efforts towards wood smoke pollution regulation are welcome, only going as far as Washington State has gone is not far enough. Places in Washington State still suffers from chronic pollution problems and have largely ineffective groups promoting the compromise regulations, such as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency advising people on how to burn “clean”, when they really should be advising people to not burn at all.

    It is 100% true that wood smoke from outdoor burners is “harmful to the environment and to human health and they produce a lot of thick smoke which, in addition to being a nuisance to neighbors, has serious health and air pollution impacts”, but that is true for all sources of woodsmoke, including indoor wood burners (and EPA certified wood stoves too). Wood smoke is a class 1 carcinogen like plutonium, cigarette smoke and asbestos. Wood smoke should not be in the environment at all. It is only political cowardice and widespread ignorance of the unequivocal scientific evidence of the deadliness of woodsmoke that is preventing proper regulations being brought in. EPA certification for a woodburner is really nothing more than a license to pollute.

    The right policy decision for CT is complete prohibition on wood burning at all times. No part of the state is remote enough that one person’s wood burning does not detrimentally affect their neighbors. Anything less than complete prohibition is a political compromise, not based on scientific fact.

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