Strengthen Indiana's new air pollution policy

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Strengthen Indiana's new air pollution policy

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:17 pm

GUEST COMMENTARY: Strengthen Indiana's new air pollution policy

By Jodi Perras, Jesse Kharbanda and Jerry King nwi.com | Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 12:00 am | No Comments Posted

When we think of air pollution, our minds might be directed to power plants with big smokestacks or idling trucks, but there are other sources that can cause breathing problems. Among those are outdoor wood boilers, units that burn wood to heat water that is then used to heat a home or building. Indiana has more than 8,000 units across our state.

Homeowners and small businesses are using outdoor wood boilers as a low-cost source of heat because of the rising cost of propane and as a way to recycle downed trees and use domestically produced fuel. But because few local governments in Indiana have passed policies restricting their use, outdoor wood boilers sometimes might be located in residential areas close to neighbors.

Outdoor wood boilers can emit smoke 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Studies of indoor air quality at houses as far as 850 feet away from an outdoor wood boiler show tiny particles of wood smoke at six times the levels of houses not near an outdoor wood boiler and four times the levels of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air standards.

Indiana residents living near outdoor wood boilers have complained about chronic bronchitis, throat and lung problems, sinusitis and other breathing problems. Some working class families have had to buy expensive air filters and may face medical bills they cannot afford. An outdoor wood boiler moving into a neighborhood also can cause property values to decline and make it difficult to sell a home.

Today, the Indiana Air Pollution Control Board, which shapes air pollution policy for Indiana, will meet to consider a proposed rule to provide long-needed public health safeguards for Hoosier families from outdoor wood boilers. This is particularly critical as outdoor wood boilers have no national emission requirements. While it is laudable that the board is, at last, moving to implement protections, we believe the rules proposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management are not adequate to protect public health and property values and are urging the Air Board to strengthen them.

We are calling for the proposed rule to be amended in the following ways:

• Increase the height of the smokestacks: Permanent stacks should be required to extend five feet higher than the peak of neighboring occupied buildings within 300 feet of the unit. If the owner cannot feasibly install a stack meeting these requirements, he or she should not be operating an outdoor wood boiler unit at that location.

• Extend the period when outdoor wood boilers should not be used: IDEM's proposed rule would ban older units from operating from June through August. This is not sufficient. Owners of all outdoor wood boilers should have backup heat for late spring and early fall and alternative systems to heat water.

• Provide a means for suffering families to redress problems: IDEM does not have enough inspectors to monitor operations and take smoke readings at individual homes. A "nuisance provision" would provide clear operating guidelines to the owners of these units and the ability for harmed neighbors to monitor compliance with cameras, similar to requirements working successfully in Maine. In suggesting this provision, we are not seeking to expand such monitoring to wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, as has been claimed.

Even with these amendments, we are concerned that outdoor wood boilers might still cause health problems and reduced property values. Without these amendments, however, we know for certain from other states' experiences that complaints will continue to be unresolved and neighbors' health will be harmed.

Jodi Perras is executive director of Improving Kids' Environment. Jesse Kharbanda is executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. Jerry King is executive director of the Indiana Public Health Association. The opinions expressed in this column are the writers' and not necessarily those of The Times.

source
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/gu ... 62ca3.html
• 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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