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Woodburning & Air Quality

Wood burning has been a part of Michigan's heritage. Homeowners choosing to use fireplaces and woodstoves need to understand that healthy indoor and outdoor air quality requires good wood burning habits. The following guidelines for responsible wood burning minimize health problems and help keep the environment clean.

OUTDOOR WOOD BOILERS 
WOODBURNING 
WOODSMOKE & HEALTH 
WOODBURNING REGULATIONS IN OTHER STATES 

KNOW WHEN TO BURN 

  1. Monitor all fires; never leave a fire unattended. 
  2. Upgrade an older woodstove to one with a catalytic combustor that burns off excess pollutants. 
  3. Be courteous when visitors come to your home. Wood smoke can cause problems for people with developing or sensitive lungs (i.e. children, the elderly) and people with lung disease. 

KNOW WHAT TO BURN 

  1. Split large pieces of wood into smaller pieces and make sure it has been seasoned (allowed to dry for a year). Burning fresh cut logs = smoky fires. 
  2. When buying wood from a dealer, do not assume it has been seasoned. 
  3. Small hot fires are more efficient and less wasteful than large fires. 
  4. Never burn chemically treated wood or non-wood materials. 
  5. Manufactured firelogs provide a nice ambience, have the least impact to air quality, and are a good choice for homeowners who use a fireplace infrequently. 

    SEASON YOUR FUEL WOOD 

KNOW HOW TO BURN 

  1. Proper combustion is key. Make sure your wood fire is not starved; if excess smoke is coming from the chimney or stack, the fire isn't getting enough air. 
  2. Visually check your chimney or stack 10 to 15 minutes after you light a fire to ensure it is not emitting excess amounts of smoke. 
  3. Homeowners should have woodstoves and fireplaces serviced and cleaned yearly to ensure they are working properly. 

OUTDOOR WOOD BOILERS 

Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB) - Fact Sheet 
OWB photos are worth a thousand words 
Conventional (high polluting) OWB Plume Data 
High-Efficiency (clean) OWB Plume Data 
Smoke Gets in Your Lungs- Report documents health problems associated with OWB
Outdoor Boilers - Wood Heat Organization, Inc. info 
OWB Technical Handook - Environment Australia 

WOOD BURNING LINKS 

EPA Woodburning Links:
Burn Wise 
Standards for Residential Wood Heaters 
Indoor Air - Combustion Appliances & CO 

MSU Extension Service Links:

Fireplace Safety 
Wood Stoves 
Smoke Problems 
Chimney Problems 
Wildfire Information 


WOODSMOKE & HEALTH LINKS 

Burning Issues- Public education about the hazards of exposure to wood smoke and pollution
Health Effects of Wood Smoke (WA) 
Wood Heat Organization, Inc.is a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency committed to the responsible use of wood as a home heating fuel.
Woodstoves: Will They be Outlawed? The Chimney SweepOnline overview of EPA woodstove emissions regulations
Fireplace Safety Tips 
Woodburning Study in Mio, Michigan 1983 (2.37 MB pdf) 
NY Times Article on Outdoor Wood Boilers 


WOODBURNING REGULATIONS IN OTHER STATES 

Spokane Clean Air Wood Heating 
http://www.deq.state.or.us/aq/ 

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