EPA releases final rule on pollution limits from new wood-burning heaters

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2015 - The Environmental Protection Agency's final rule to limit pollution from new wood-burning heaters calls for a two-thirds reduction in health-threatening sooty emissions.

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EPA said the standards only apply to new heating devices that use wood as a source, and will be phased in over a five-year period to give manufacturers time to develop models that meet the new requirements.

“Today's final rule will provide important health benefits to communities across the country,” EPA said in a news release.

Wood heathers can increase particle pollution, or soot, to levels that pose serious health concerns, the agency said. Particle pollution has been linked to a wide range of health effects, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. Smoke from wood heaters also includes volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and air toxics, EPA said.

The two-thirds reduction in emissions called for in the final rule will improve air quality and provide between $3.4 billion and $7.6 billion in public health benefits, according to EPA.

The agency stressed that the final rule does not affect current heaters already in use in homes today. It also does not replace state or local requirements governing wood heater use, EPA said.

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EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to set new performance standards for categories of stationary sources of pollution that cause, or significantly contribute to, air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. The final rule announced today updates the 1988 standards for woodstoves and sets the first-ever federal standards for hydronic heaters, wood-fired forced air furnaces (also called warm-air furnaces), pellet stoves and a previously unregulated type of woodstove called a single burn-rate stove. These standards do not cover fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens or barbecues.

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