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2008 News Releases

Cleaner New Generation of Outdoor Wood Heaters is Good News for New Englanders

Release date: 10/23/2008

Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(10/23/08 - Waterbury, Vt.) - Significantly cleaner models of outdoor wood-burning heaters - also called outdoor wood boilers, outdoor wood furnaces, or outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters - will soon be available for New England families and businesses who choose to burn wood as a heat and hot water source.

    Under the second phase of a voluntary partnership with EPA, several manufacturers of outdoor wood-fired heaters have already pledged to market a new generation of units that are more efficient and which will emit about 90 percent less air pollution than unqualified units.
      Especially in northern rural areas of New England, outdoor wood heaters are relied upon by thousands of families to provide heat and hot water for homes and other buildings. Further, with skyrocketing costs of other energy sources prompting more people to turn to wood burning, EPA's voluntary program to reduce emissions from outdoor wood heaters provides a cleaner alternative to consumers. Outdoor wood heaters can be a significant local source of smoke and particle pollution.
        "Here in New England, while many families and businesses are choosing wood as their winter heating fuel source, the new Phase 2 outdoor wood heaters will help people choose a model that is better for air quality than older, unqualified units" said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

        In response to concerns about smoke and particle pollution, in 2005, Vermont was the first New England state to propose a regulation for outdoor wood heaters that includes emission limits. Now, Maine and New Hampshire have adopted, and Massachusetts has proposed, similar regulations.

        "Vermont is proud to be the first state to take steps to encourage cleaner and more efficient outdoor wood heaters," said George Crombie, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. "Vermonters have a long tradition of heating with wood, but as regulators we must ensure the cleanest burning units are available."
        Qualified Phase 2 models of both outdoor and indoor wood-fired heaters will be marked by a white hang tag showing that a unit meets the requirements of the program. Some manufacturers already have units available that meet the new emission levels.

        The voluntary EPA program was first launched in 2007, providing criteria for units to be 70 percent cleaner than unqualified models. Today the program has evolved to Phase 2, and EPA-qualified units will be up to 90 percent cleaner than older unqualified units. So far, this program has reduced nearly 1,200 tons of fine particle emissions annually. Under Phase 2, new models must emit no more than 0.32 pounds of particle pollution per million BTUs of heat output. The models must be tested by an EPA-accredited third-party laboratory to verify that they meet these levels.

        Exposure to fine particle pollution, also called PM 2.5, is linked to a number of serious health problems, including decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks and premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Children, people with heart or lung disease, and older adults are the most susceptible to the effects of particle pollution.

        More information:

        - Outdoor wood heaters in New England (www.epa.gov/region01/communities/woodcombustion.html)

        - National Voluntary Phase 2 program (www.epa.gov/woodheaters)

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