Residential Wood Smoke Causes Air Pollution in Keene

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Residential Wood Smoke Causes Air Pollution in Keene

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:54 pm

Residential Wood Smoke Causes Air Pollution in Keene

Over the past several years, air pollution monitoring in
Keene has identified periods when the air contains unhealthy
concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

When this occurs, people may experience difficult breathing,
aggravated asthma or heart conditions. Unlike the summertime
smog events that much of the state experiences, most
of these events occur during the cold weather months when
people expect clean air.

In 2007, NHDES began continuous PM2.5 monitoring in Keene
to better understand the situation and found that PM2.5 concentrations
spiked at nights when the winds went calm and then dropped the next
day when the winds picked up again.

This was significant because it eliminated upwind areas
from being the primary cause of this problem. Keene has
benefited from a wood stove changeout program and an outreach
and educational program to help residents burn wood more cleanly.

However, NHDES is still seeing some unhealthy
concentrations; is wood burning the primary cause of this
air pollution problem? When the air pollution monitoring
filters returned to our labs smelling of wood smoke, we were
given a clue.

During the winter of 2012-2013, NHDES conducted a special
monitoring study designed to better understand the role
that residential wood burning plays in the city’s high winter
air pollution. NHDES enhanced its Keene monitoring station
to collect continuous PM2.5, sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon
monoxide (CO), black carbon, levoglucosan, and several trace
metals. These pollutants were selected because their presence,
absence, and how their concentrations vary in relation
to other pollutants helps to identify the nature of the pollu-
tion sources. Levoglucosan was specifically selected because
it is an organic compound that is uniquely formed during the
burning of wood cellulose. If it is measured in the air, wood
was burned. CO and black carbon are also good indicators of
wood burning, but there are other sources in the area that
create these pollutants. SO2 and the trace metals were selected
to help identify the roles of local coal, oil, industry and
automotive emission sources.

The study found a very strong relationship between the
levoglucosan and PM2.5 concentrations at the Keene station,
signifying that wood burning is the primary cause of the
PM2.5 concentrations. In addition, there were indications
of oil and coal burning; probably also related to residential
heating, but these sources play only a minor role in Keene’s
PM2.5 levels. Automotive and local industry were not identified
as significant PM2.5 sources and while regional transport
can contribute to unhealthy air in the city, it is the local
residential wood burning that dominates these air pollution

For more information about the special study contact Jeff
Underhill at or (603) 271-1102.

source ... ul-aug.pdf
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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