Outdoor Wood Burning Boilers: Is there reason for concern?

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Outdoor Wood Burning Boilers: Is there reason for concern?

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:47 pm

Outdoor Wood Burning Boilers: Is there reason for concern?
http://www.planning.co.medina.oh.us/new ... _email.pdf

Outdoor Wood Burning Boilers Is there reason for concern?
By: Bonetta Guyette
Environmental Sanitarian II
Akron Regional Air Quality Management District
You may have noticed the small shed type enclosures appearing in many neighborhood backyards. These are
outdoor wood burning heating units often referred to as boilers, hydronic heaters, or water stoves. According
to an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) estimate the cumulative number of units installed in
Ohio, as of 2006, was 20,237 units. Sales continue to be brisk with approximately 6,600 new units installed
annually in our state. Higher fossil fuel energy costs continue to drive the demand.
What are outdoor wood burning boilers? The boilers are basically a large firebox,
surrounded by a water jacket which may hold 250 gallons of water. The
boilers are fired to heat the water which is controlled by an aquastat, similar to a
thermostat. When the water temperature reaches the desired set point, usually
around 165 degrees F, the aquastat adjusts the damper, starving the fire of oxygen,
resulting in incomplete combustion of the wood. The wood smokes and
smolders in the oxygen starved environment until the aquastat opens the
damper, allowing more oxygen into the burn chamber, to increase the water
temperature. The heated water is piped underground into the house where it
may be circulated through a heat exchanger with a fan to generate forced air or
piped through tubing to baseboard or radiators, as a hydronic system. The boilers
may be used for various heating needs including: residential home heating,
pool heaters, spas, greenhouses, and commercial buildings. Residential home
heating is the primary use. The boilers have a short stack or flue which inhibits the fallout or dispersion of
particulates. Many of the boilers are equipped with a domestic coil to supply hot water to the house in addition
to heat. Hence, many of the boilers are burned year round. The installed cost of a wood burning boiler
ranges from $5000.00 to $20,000.00.
Akron Regional Air Quality Management District (ARAQMD) has received
smoke and odor complaints on outdoor wood burning boilers in all three counties:
Medina, Summit, and Portage. A complainant in Medina County stated:
“the neighbor has an outdoor wood burner, he burns railroad ties and telephone
poles... smoke is quite bad... odor is a nuisance… health concerns for humans
and animals.” Investigation by an ARAQMD inspector verified the burning of
railroad ties and telephone poles by the boiler owner. A Portage County complainant
stated “I am a prisoner in my own home… its 80 degrees outside and I
cannot open my windows. I live on 14 acres but my neighbor put his boiler
within 100 ft of my house.” She continued saying “my house and windows are
covered in a black, grimy film.” Another complainant in Summit County said her “whole house smells and
even the dog stinks after it goes outside.”
Are these units a viable answer to higher heating costs or reason for concern?
Most outdoor wood burning boilers are designed to burn dry, seasoned firewood. However, owners occasionally
burn green or wet wood which produces even larger quantities of smoke and particle pollution. The in
complete combustion of the heater, coupled with the short stack, often less than 6 feet, create heavy smoke
near ground level and in close proximity to people. Modeling has documented particle pollution spreading
out approximately 500 ft from the stack of an outdoor boiler. In many cases the boiler is located much closer
than 500 ft from the nearest neighbor. Quite often the boilers are used for waste disposal, ie: burning of
household trash, burning of plastic coating from copper wire, railroad ties, telephone poles, and other waste.
Let’s examine wood smoke. Wood smoke is a complex mix of particulates and gasses and can be a significant
source of fine particles. Fine particles, defined as those 2.5 microns or smaller, are inhaled and not exhaled;
the particles may remain deep in the lungs or enter directly into the bloodstream. Fine particulates
have been linked to respiratory illnesses including: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
bronchitis and heart disease. Adult humans use 35 pounds of air daily, while children may use twice that
amount or 70 pounds daily. Therefore, children are at an increased risk of developing illnesses linked to
wood smoke. The elderly and individuals with respiratory or heart disease are at increased risk as well. The
fine particulates affect both outdoor and indoor air quality because outdoor smoke may be drawn back into
the house through roof vents, dryer vents, chimneys, and various other means. Wood smoke also produces
volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, dioxins, and polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s). Some of these by-products are carcinogenic; cancer causing. Wood smoke
is not healthy.
Outdoor wood burning boilers are a major source of pollution. Consider the following facts pertaining to
emissions from outdoor wood burning boilers. According to the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use
Management (NESCAUM), each boiler may emit as much as 1-1/2 tons of particulates annually which
equates to the emissions from 8,000 natural gas furnaces, or 205 oil furnaces, or 22 EPA certified indoor
wood stoves. In 2006 the 20,000+ boilers installed throughout Ohio emitted 5,749 tons of fine particulates
(PM2.5), equal to the emissions from the top 5 stationary permitted sources in the state, per the OEPA. The
boilers also emitted 11,024 tons of VOC’s, equal to the top 14 stationary permitted sources in the state.
Based on the information available, are outdoor wood burning boilers the answer to fossil fuel burning as a
heat source? While it may appear that wood is a free, or inexpensive alternative, one must consider the environmental
impacts and health implications linked to wood smoke and the outdoor wood burning boilers. Additional
concerns are neighbor disputes and the documented effects on real estate values.
Outdoor wood burners are currently unregulated by the OEPA and/or the United States Environmental Protection
Agency (U.S. EPA). However, some cities and local municipalities are drafting or have adopted
regulations. Regulations may include, but are not limited to: setback requirements, minimum lot size, months
of operation, while some cities have banned the installation and use of outdoor wood burning boilers. The
U.S. EPA, as part of a two phase voluntary program, is encouraging manufacturers to offer cleaner burning,
less polluting units and consumers to purchase these units. The cleaner burning boilers will emit 70% less
particulates, burn more efficiently, and use less wood. Availability of the cleaner burning units is unknown at
this time. For questions or additional information please contact
Bonetta Guyette of ARAQMD at (330) 375-2480 extension 6055.
Acknowledgements and additional information available at:
http://www.epa.gov/particles Particle pollution
http://www.epa.woodheaters More efficient wood burning boilers.
http://www.nescaum.org Northeast States for Coordinated Air
Use Management


USEPA Proposes New PM2.5 Air Pollution Standards

Article By:
Environmental Group
Schiff Hardin LLP
posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Administrative & Regulatory / Environmental, Energy & Resources

In response to a court order, on Thursday, June 14, 2012, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) proposed updated national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5. A group of plaintiffs, including 11 states, filed suit in February 2012 after USEPA failed to meet an October 2011 deadline for revising the existing standards, as required by Section 109(d)(1) of the Clean Air Act. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia directed USEPA to propose updated standards no later than June 14, 2012. The Clean Air Act requires the NAAQS to be reviewed every five years, but USEPA has rarely complied with the five-year review provision. The proposal sets in motion a requirement by states to classify air quality regions and then establish additional requirements in regions that do not attain the new standards.

USEPA proposed revisions to the suite of primary and secondary standards for PM. The current primary PM2.5 annual standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). USEPA proposed to lower the standard to within a range of 12µg/m3 to 13µg/m3, and is taking comment on whether to set the standard as low as 11µg/m3. By proposing a range, USEPA stated it hopes to receive input from the public as to the most appropriate final standard. According to the proposal, USEPA plans to keep the existing primary 24-hour fine particle standard of 35µg/m3 set in 2006 (USEPA's last review of the PM NAAQS), as well as the current primary standard for coarse particles, the PM10 standard of 150µg/m3.

With regard to secondary standards, USEPA proposes a new, separate 24-hour fine particle standard defined in terms of a visibility index to improve visibility in urban areas, and to retain the current standards to address non-visibility welfare effects. The new standard will be set at either 30 deciviews or 28 deciviews.

The proposal will also revise its Prevention of Significant Deterioration regulations to provide grandfathering from the new requirements for permit applications for which the public comment period has already begun at the time the revised PM NAAQS take effect. USEPA expects that 99% of U.S. counties are projected to meet the proposed standard without any additional action.

The following link is to a map showing USEPA's projections regarding counties that are not expected to meet the proposed annual standards (http://www.epa.gov/airquality/particlep ... 12/map.pdf). Sources of PM2.5 include fuel combustion from automobiles, power plants, petroleum refineries, wood burning, industrial processes, and diesel powered vehicles such as buses and trucks.

USEPA will accept public comment for 63 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register and expects to issue the final standards by December 14, 2012.

http://www.natlawreview.com/article/use ... -standards
• 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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