2011 Sept 8 Public Information Session: WI Grand Rapids (population 7,000) & WI Rapids: (Outdoor Wood Boiler effect on air quality studied after OWB regulation proposed) Grand Rapids air quality to be studied
A notice on the website indicated officials were looking at a possible ordinance regarding outdoor wood boilers, Hoch said. It made him think the community …
(WI) GRAND RAPIDS — A five-state consortium organized a study of the effect of wood burning on Grand Rapids’ air quality.
“The study is to provide information on air quality to the Town Board and what impact smoke plays on it, if any at all,” said Joseph Hoch, state Department of Natural Resources program manager.
Officials will hold a public information meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Grand Rapids Fire Station, so people can learn what the study is about and have questions answered.
David Snyder, an assistant chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and his students will conduct the study, using a device that acts like a big vacuum cleaner, pulling air through filters. The students then will take the filters back to the school’s laboratory, where they will analyze collected particles. Snyder and his students also will use devices that test the air at multiple sites in Grand Rapids.
The study is part of a multi-agency effort organized by the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium and includes the state Department of Natural Resources, state Health Department, Wood County Health Department, University of Wisconsin-Extension and UWSP, Hoch said.
The consortium is a nonprofit organization that works with states in the Great Lakes region to help with air quality issues, said Michael Koerber, consortium executive director. Officials in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have been expressing interest in whether wood smoke production should be regulated and, if so, how, Koerber said.
The Environmental Protection Agency gave the consortium a $100,000 grant for an energy-related project, Hoch said. The nonprofit group decided it wanted to pursue a study in a small community and contacted Hoch, who found the Grand Rapids town website.
A notice on the website indicated officials were looking at a possible ordinance regarding outdoor wood boilers, Hoch said. It made him think the community might be interested in participating in the air quality study.
Hoch visited with town officials, and they did a survey of the number of outdoor wood boilers in the community. There were about 50, Town Board member Arne Nystrom said.
The wood boilers are placed outside of homes and use wood to heat water that heats the home, Nystrom said. The town was looking at an ordinance that would regulate setbacks, not air issues, he said.
“We had made no suggestions that they look at us or spend that amount of money,” Nystrom said.
The town has no preconceived ideas about what it will gain from the study or do with the results.
“Obviously, we’ll get a better understanding of the effect of wood smoke,” Nystrom said.
The town will control what it wants to do with the information gathered this winter and whether any follow-up studies occur in the community, Hoch said.
Snyder and his students will be able to detect specific properties in the air samples that will determine whether impurities are coming from wood smoke, Hoch said. If town officials are interested, the school also can check for other impurities contained in the samples, he said.