If you’re burning wood for heat, make sure it’s dry.
That’s the word from Fran McNair, executive director of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, who says her office is working to educate homeowners on reducing harmful emissions from their wood-burning stoves. She recommended keeping the wood stacked under a waterproof cover for least six months before burning.
“The wetter the wood, the more it pollutes,” she said.
McNair said the state also is taking an interest in pollution from wood stoves and fireplaces. She’s watching with interest Senate Bill 5432 as it works its way through the Washington Legislature.
If it passes, the new law would require that all non-certified wood-burning stoves are removed and destroyed when a residence is sold.
If the home buyer wants to replace the stove, a new certified model would be required.
McNair said approximately “12 percent of air quality problems” are caused by residential wood stoves and fireplaces. On days when there is an air quality event, such as an “inversion,” the emissions from home units produce as much as 80 percent of the air quality problems.
McNair also said home fireplaces and wood stoves produce far more emissions than regulated boilers, including biomass burners, which operate under very strict federal and state regulations.
“It would be outrageously expensive” to build a fireplace that met the same standards, she said.
McNair also recommended pellet stoves as a superior alternative to traditional wood burning stoves, saying that way the fuel “is always dry.”
John Woolley, president of the Olympic Forest Coalition, said he and his wife, Nancy, “retired from wood stove burning in the 1990s due to concerns over over-thinning and pollution. We are on propane now.” He acknowledged that burning propane is “another debate.”
Reach Mark Couhig at email@example.com.