APCA JOURNAL, Vol. 30, No. 8, August 1980


John A. Cooper

Oregon Graduate Center

Beaverton, Oregon

Currently available information suggests a substantial environmental impact from residential wood combustion emissions. Air pollution from this source is wide. spread and increasing. Current ambient measurements, surveys, ant model predictions indicate winter respirable (<2 ~m) emissions from residential wood combustion can easily exceed all other sources. Both the chemical potency and deliverability of the emissions from this source are of concern. The emissions are almost entirely in the inhalable size range and contain toxic and priority pollutants, carcinogens, cocarcinoogens, cilia toxic, mucus coagulating agents, and other respiratory irritants such as phenols, aldehydes, etc. This source is contributing substantially to the nonattainment of current particulate, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbon ambient air quality standards and will almost certainly have a significant impact on potential future standards such as inhalable particulates visibility, and other chemically specific standards. Emission from this growing source is likely to require additional expenditures by industry for air pollution control equipment in nonattainment areas.

Man has been exposed to a large number of complex and hazardous chemicals from forest and domestic fires throughout his evolution. Thus, environmental concern over increasing use of wood as a residential energy source is not exposure to a new form of air pollutant. but is, instead, concern over the level of exposure and its impact on public health. current and future ambient air quality standards, and industrial growth. Increasing costs of energy, decreasing availability of fossil fuels, and government encouragement will assure the continued growth of this source of pollution over the next few years. This dramatic shift in energy utilization, however, is being encouraged without an adequate understanding of either the environmental impact or the total costs and benefits. Our forests and their wood waste. are a vitalnational resource and their use for single family residential space heating is just one of many possible options. The environmental impact is an essential component in the costbenefit analysis ant effective decisions relative to the use of this source of building materials, chemicals, and energy will require an accurate understanding of their impact on the environment.

Currently available information on the impact of residential wood combustion (RWC) sources on air quality is minimal and previously available impact assessment methods inadequate. Recently developed and applies assessment methods using chemical masi balance (CMB) and carbonl! measurements by Cooper, et al have shown promise of improving our understanding and impact assessment capabilities.

The primary objectives of this presentation are to review the available information on potential environmental impacts, note areas where conflicts are likely, and suggest areas of future research.

For additional information from this paper see Armidale, AU Summary

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