The real reality: Dirty air unacceptable

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The real reality: Dirty air unacceptable

Postby Wilberforce » Sat May 17, 2008 12:05 am

The real reality: Dirty air unacceptable

Opinion Letter
Harvey Halvorsen, New Richmond, WI
Published Friday, May 16, 2008

To the Editor:

Your May 8 “Cough, wheeze” editorial was an excellent wake-up call about declining air quality in St. Croix County.

I, too, have witnessed the decline of our air quality. Smoke plumes and smoke-filled river valleys from wood burning
are becoming more common.

I’ve traced wood smoke to a major new source of unregulated outdoor air pollution: the Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB).

The OWB, smoking 24/7, creates public health hazards from excessive wood smoke when they are improperly placed
and operated. Wood smoke is dangerous to breathe as it contains fine particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide,
nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide (EPA).

Smoke from an OWB is very obnoxious and can infiltrate closed homes. The smoke also causes nausea, shortness
of breath, headaches, coughing, respiratory illnesses and more.

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health can provide more info ( click on air issues then info for

The St. Croix County Public Health Department in New Richmond should be contacted (715-246-8370) if you have a
health hazard or nuisance complaint in regards to an OWB.

Our county Public Health Department has the authority to address health hazards created from smoking OWB’s.
Hazards and complaints arise where OWB’s are located and operated in small villages, subdivisions and small towns.
Burning wood in OWB’s in residential areas with close neighbors is not a good idea.

Local ordinances that restrict or ban the use of OWB’s is the real reality. This can and should be a vital step for
choosing a cleaner air shed for St. Croix County.

The State Department of Public Health identifies several actions a local government can do to alleviate the health
hazards and complaints. The Wisconsin DNR has guidance on establishing control over the installation and use
of OWB’s. This guide is for Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns available at:

Our air will get an “A” if we do our share to improve the next breath of fresh air we take. We can choose to improve
our country’s current reality.

CLEAN AIR = Our children, our lungs, and our environment deserve it!

Harvey Halvorsen

New Richmond
The real reality: Dirty air unacceptable
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90% dislike smoke in Maine poll

Postby Ernest Grolimund » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:28 pm

Maine conducted a poll for their "Smoke Free" program to discourage second hand tobacco smoke. 90% said they preferred smoke free living environments ! This seems to indicate that 90% prefer living without woodsmoke too. By coincidence, 90% of Mainers are not burning wood despite record oil prices. Perhaps that is why they passed an outdoor wood boiler bill and later gave the DEP emergency power to shut them down if complainers can prove a possible health risk. The law has flaws such as referring to .32 lbs/mmbtu in emission limits instead of the gm/hr limits recommended by NESCAUM and the Am. Lung but it is a start in the right direction and can be improved. The point is that even in Maine with all of it's woods, people don't like smoke, except for the Governor maybe who has been trying to encourage it to save the state money and increase revenues from the forests. The health laws always seem to be ignored using discretionary powers of enforcement which are technically illegal. But who has the money to challenge the Governor in court. The only alternative is to write articles for the papers and lobby officials but there seems to be some need for petitions and the like to tap into the silent majority who don't like smoke.
Ernest Grolimund
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:52 pm
Location: Maine

Maine Smoke Improvements May Be Coming

Postby Ernest Grolimund » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:03 pm

Gov. Baldacci created a task force to study energy from wood and some good things have been recommended. First, the danger of wood smoke pollution from old uncertified equipment is recognized ! This is a big step in the right direction. Second, replacement of the old equipment has been recommended by buyback or some other means. Third, a new type of woodburning boiler has been introduced that puts out 1/10th the pm as a pellet stove or just a little more than an oil burner. It uses forced air for better combustion and higher temperatures that burns up most of the pm and volatile gases as well. It was invented in sweden and is just beginning to be offered for sale to heat a whole house by Maine Energy Systems. It is $12,500 for the boiler that uses pellets but the cost of energy is about $20/mmbtu or half the cost of oil. Fourth, the health nuisance problem is recognized and the task force recommends steps to improve or reestablish a process for addressing nuisances. This is a historic event.

I personnally have objected to their endorsement of wood chip boilers and warned them that the environmental defense fund plans to try to change the NSPS standards which will make them obsolete but they have not moved off their endorsement. Perhaps they believe that more particulate control can allow conformity to any pm standard and they do not have to consider dangerous air toxics. I don't know. But they are recognizing the problem from old equipment and if action comes out of this, 90% of Maines air pollution from wood smoke could be eliminated! Let us pray that this actually happens. The Am. Lung Assn is the leader in this and an environmental lawyer for the Governor has been very important as well. Her name is Karin Tilberg and she is making a difference so far and Governor Baldacci seems to be coming around as well. I have been writing and calling and they are listening to me and writing back. Money is very important to them of course as it should be but warnings of a concurrent blizzard, wood burning, and an inversion with possible pm levels of 300 mcg as observed by the EPA are weighing heavily on their minds. So is global warming and breaking Maines dependance on forein oil. This is a very exciting time in Maine.
Ernest Grolimund
Posts: 413
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:52 pm
Location: Maine

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