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Article: wood heater smoke
Wood you please…
...take responsibility this winter for the smoke that your wood heater produces.
Wood smoke contains many different chemicals, some of which are toxic to humans. When these chemicals are inhaled they cause health problems in young children and the elderly, particularly those with respiratory (breathing) and cardiovascular (heart) illnesses.
Domestic wood-burning heaters are one of the main sources of pollution affecting air quality in the Adelaide metropolitan area in winter—second only to motor vehicle emissions.
The secrets of successful burning
- Only burn dry and seasoned wood. Seasoned logs should make a 'crack' when banged together not a dull thud.
- Keep air vents open for 20 minutes when starting and reloading the fire to ensure there is a vigorous flame.
- Keep the fire burning brightly but let it go out at night. Most heaters burn better with three or four smaller logs rather than one or two large logs.
If there is a lack of any or all of the above factors, your fuel will not burn completely, excessive wood smoke will be emitted from your flue, and you will waste your fuel.
Also remember to check there is no smoke from your flue 20 minutes after starting your fire, by going outside and looking at your flue. If there is still smoke coming from your flue you may need to adjust the fuel or air vents to get a better fire.
Talk to your neighbour
Neighbourhood complaints concerning wood heater smoke occur at this time each year. Issues such as these are best handled by working together with your neighbour.
You may feel anxious about approaching your neighbour, but remember that they are sometimes not aware they are affecting you.
Free mediation services are available that can be of assistance in resolving neighbourhood wood smoke issues. This approach also has the benefit of avoiding costly legal processes. For further information, contact a South Australian Community Legal Centre with a community mediation service on (08) 8384 5222.
What does the law say?
The Environment Protection Act 1993, section 25, states:
A person must not undertake an activity that pollutes, or might pollute, the environment unless the person takes all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent or minimise any resulting environmental harm.
Smoke and odour from burning wood is a form of pollution and it may cause environmental harm. An authorised officer under the Act may issue an expiation notice or an Environment Protection Order to achieve compliance with the general environmental duty. Penalties ranging from $300 to $60,000 may be applied.
For more comprehensive information on how to use wood heaters efficiently please visit www.epa.sa.gov.au or contact Council on xxxx xxxx for a free Clear Skies DVD.
Last modified: 05/06/2012 03:19 pm