Blue Mountains News
Reducing Winter Air Pollution
“Winter is here and the focus is on the correct use of wood heaters. The incorrect use of wood fire heaters can seriously affect our air quality,” said Lithgow Council Mayor Councillor Stephen Lesslie.
Wood smoke particles from inefficient heaters can be seen as a smoke haze that sometimes sits over built up areas. Not only is this unattractive, it can also be bad for our health. Wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties, especially for people suffering existing respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, and for very young children and frail older people.
Some simple steps to reduce wood smoke pollution are:
- Don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
- Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
- Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
- Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
- When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
- Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don't cram the firebox full.
- Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
- Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
- Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
- If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013).
Councillor Lesslie added, “Residents should take advantage of the alternate fuel rebate program. This year the Council is offering rebates of $1,400 for pensioners, $1,000 for non-pensioners who replace their coal heaters with cleaner heating alternatives."
Program details can be found on council’s website or at the customer service centre located at 180 Mort Street Lithgow.
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