To the Patch -Killingworth
Op-Ed — Why Killingworth should ban outdoor wood furnaces
August 22, 2011
On September 8, 2011 Killingworth will hold a Town Meeting on outdoor wood furnaces. So far, 17 towns in CT have banned them, as well as the states of Oregon and Washington. Outdoor wood furnaces are incredible dangerous to health and harmful to property values of those who live anywhere near them.
Environment and Human Health, Inc.’s (EHHI) research report, The Dangers from Outdoor Wood Furnaces, shows the dangers that outdoor wood furnaces pose to neighboring houses as far away as 850 feet.
The New York Department of Health did a study on outdoor wood furnaces. Their data showed that wood smoke emissions from outdoor wood furnaces affected areas 1000 feet away – showing both high levels of PM 2.5 and periods of strong odors.
Wood smoke contains many of the same toxic compounds that are found in cigarette smoke. Just a few of them include benzene, formaldehyde, and 1,3-butadiene, all three of which are carcinogenic.
Outdoor wood furnaces burn 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. All houses tested in the EHHI report had particulate exposures well above the EPA ambient air quality standard. Levels of PM 2.5 that exceed the EPA standards are associated with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) attacks and hospitalizations, and are also associated with increased risk of cardiac attacks.
Some of the health effects reported to EHHI from outdoor wood furnaces include awakening at night with coughing, headaches, inability to catch breath, continual sore throats, bronchitis and colds requiring children to stay home from school. In some cases the breathing difficulty has gone into asthma attacks requiring emergency-room treatment.
Even episodes of short-term exposures to extreme levels of fine particulates from wood smoke for periods as short as two hours, can produce significant adverse health effects. As well, wood smoke interferes with normal lung development in infants and children. It increases children’s risk of lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Outdoor wood furnaces create emissions different from either fireplaces or indoor wood stoves. The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) found that the average fine particle emissions from one outdoor wood furnace are equivalent to the emissions from 22 EPA-certified indoor wood stoves.
Because the Phase ll units are not much better than the Phase l units, banning the sale of all new outdoor wood furnaces is the only way to protect a town’s air and its citizens health. Farmers might save a few thousand dollars – but your citizens will loose the entire value of their homes as well as their health. Who will the town of Killingworth protect?
Nancy Alderman, President
Environment and Human Health, Inc.