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EPA moves to cut wood stove emissions


At Fireside in Bend, wood stove sales are heating up.

“In Oregon, 7,000 wood stoves are sold a year, and in Central Oregon, it’s around 700,” Fireside owner Roger Sanders said Wednesday.

Over the past 25 years, Sanders has seen big changes in the way the smoke emitted from wood stoves is monitored.

“This is an ongoing requirement, that stoves be clean-burning,” Sanders said.

Now the EPA is again proposing stricter air emissions standards for wood stoves, after being sued by Oregon and six other states to speed up the process for cleaner air.

Good news, says the state Department of Environmental Quality.

“We are going to support any change to our cleaner air,” said DEQ Regional Director Mark Bailey.

Bailey says the fine particles of pollution in wood smoke pose some serious health risks.

“It can get really deep into your lungs and can cause severe health concerns, especially if you already suffer from asthma or you’re a smoker. And it can even lead to heart disease as well,” he explained.

Current state emission standards require new stoves to emit no more than 7.5 grams of particulates per hour. Under the new rules, newly manufactured stoves would have to cut emissions by a third in 2015, to 4.5 grams, and by 80 percent in five years, to 1.3 grams.

The new rules don’t mean you need to buy a new stove.

“It’s only for future sales this will be changing,” Bailey said.

But if you’re the owner of an ancient wood stove, now might be the time to upgrade.

“If you have an old, dirty-burning wood stove, you might want to do your neighborhood a favor — and in fact, it might be old enough that it’s not safe,” Sanders said.

Sanders says the change would boost the cost of manufacturing, but as for your wallet?

“It does not look like at this point there will be a major price increase,” Sanders said.

Those who monitor the air say the health and economic benefits may outweigh any costs.

“Improving clean burning — everybody benefits from that,” Sanders added.

The EPA also plans to regulate, for the first time, emissions from pellet stoves, fireplace inserts and other wood-burning devices.

The agency is accepting comments for the next 90 days.

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