Residential Wood Heating Emission Reductions Initiative
About ½ of northwest Washington homes have some type of wood
heating device. During the wood-heating season, wood smoke can account
for 80% of air pollution in residential areas. In the GVRD and FVRD,
about 1/3 of all homes have wood burning appliances, though these are
typically for secondary heating only.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
BC Ministry of Environment
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
Northwest Clean Air Agency
Olympic Region Clean Air Agency
US Environmental Protection Agency
Context of Initiative
wood-burning appliances and fireplaces can emit significant amounts
of air pollutants. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds
including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases, and particulate
matter. Besides the visual impact of wood smoke, many of these compounds
can cause serious health problems, especially for children, pregnant
women, and people with respiratory ailments. Several of these pollutants
have demonstrated cancer-causing properties similar to cigarette
smoke. In many urban and rural areas, smoke from wood burning is
a major contributor to air pollution. Recent Environment Canada studies
in Montreal comparing pollution levels in wood-smoke affected residential
areas with those in urban areas found significantly higher concentrations
of pollutants such as PAHs, dioxins, and furans in the residential
areas than in the more-urban areas. Highest concentrations were in
the evenings and on the weekends, during the winter wood-burning
About half of all homes in northwest Washington have some type of wood heating
device. During the wood heating season, especially at night and on weekends,
wood smoke can account for up to 80% of the air pollution recorded in residential
areas. The use of wood heat on Tribal Reservations without access to natural
gas is generally higher. Wood heating is used in more than 85% of the homes in
some Tribal Communities. On an annual average bases, wood stoves and fireplaces
are responsible for 9% of the total emissions of air pollution in Washington
State. In the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and Fraser Valley Regional
although most do not use these for their primary source of heating.
- The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) and other Washington
agencies will support legislation to implement a PM2.5-based burn ban
trigger in 2005 Washington Legislature (the bill proposed in 2004 was
- The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) / Greater Vancouver Regional
District (GVRD) will develop a program for voluntary “burn bans” when
PM10 (and in some locations, PM2.5) is measured at unsafe levels. Implementation
of the bans may involve tiered actions.
- The PSCAA, Northwest Clean Air Agency, Washington Department of Ecology,
Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), GVRD, FVRD, BC Ministry of
Environment (BC MoE), and Environment Canada will
conduct outreach efforts to encourage upgrading older stoves to newer,
- The PSCAA will re-introduce Washington legislation to require that homeowners
notify prospective home-buyers if residential wood stoves do not meet
- Agencies will work to develop strategies to encourage burning only in
certified stoves or fireplace inserts.
- Agencies will explore funding options to assist those with wood stoves
to upgrade to more efficient stoves or to switch to lower emission
Current Status of Initiative
- The PM2.5 based burn ban triggers for the Washington State two-stage burn ban program went into effect in 2005.
- The PSCAA is working with one
small rural community that has a measured air quality problem
to develop a pilot woodstove change-out program
and implement other wood smoke reduction strategies.
- In June 2006, staff from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and BC Ministry of Environment attended a 2-day conference in Salt Lake City, Idaho on woodstove change-outs.
- The GVRD is in the early stages of developing an action
in their new draft Air Quality Management Plan for voluntary
curtailment of non-essential woodstove use when PM2.5 levels
are elevated. It is also considering reducing woodstove emissions
by voluntary change-out programs, in partnership with other levels
of government and equipment suppliers.
- British Columbia and Washington State are sharing
information on woodstove change-out programs. This may be useful
for subsequent implementation
of similar projects.
- Information on the status of the initiative is
to be compiled and shared with Tribes and First Nations.
- The Swinomish Tribe is currently implementing a wood stove change-out program for homes on the Swinomish reserve.
Related Links, Documents, and Projects under this Initiatiave
Select link to obtain a list of the participating
the Georgia Basin / Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy.