A brand new report from state air agencies in the US Northeast concludes
“…the existing [EPA] program provides no confidence that new residential wood heaters are performing in a manner that better protects public health than the heaters they replace.”
The “Assessment of EPA’s Residential Wood Heater Certification Program: Test Report Review: Stoves & Central Heaters“, is from the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) in collaboration with Alaska’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
It provides damning evidence about certified wood stoves and clearly challenges industry’s claims that new stoves are a solution to air quality problems:
“At its core, EPA’s program as currently run allows the continued sale and installation of high-emitting devices, many of which will be in homes located in overburdened communities already suffering from environmental and other inequities. Once installed, these units will remain in use, emitting pollution for decades to come.” (p. iii)
Another quote also highlights how government funds spent supporting the installation of new stoves (or tax breaks as they are doing in the US) may be a waste of money:
“…the existing program provides no confidence that new residential wood heaters are performing in a manner that better protects public health than the heaters they replace, and at the level required by federal standards. This has critical implications not only for public health, but also for the perceived cost-effectiveness of investments in residential wood heater change-out programs and tax credits given for the purchase of new wood burning appliances.” (p.x-xi)
Fortunately in the Comox Valley, rebates are no longer provided for new wood stoves; but most other Canadian programs, including those in BC, continue to do so.
Other valuable insights in the report:
“Research shows that almost all the emissions from residential wood heating are emitted in the first few hours after fuel loading. Therefore, the first-hour metric provides insights into the ability of an appliance to control for high PM during loading periods….For cordwood stoves, 42 percent (54) had first-hour emission rates that were more than three times higher than the emission standard. On average, first-hour emissions were 616 percent higher than the appliances certification value. The first-hour values ranged from 132 percent to 7,842 percent higher.” (p.61)
And the researchers tested two stoves, comparing their certification levels, to tests done according to the testing lab instructions and to the owner’s manual instructions (which are supposed to be the same but are often not). For one stove, the owners manual resulted in emissions 2x higher than the certification. In the other stove they found:
“…the emission rate in the study test that replicated certification procedures was almost 500 percent of that in the certification test, an increase of more than 6 g/hr. The emission rate in the test performed according to the owner’s manual instructions was more than 1,000 percent of the certification value, an increase of 16 g/hr.” (p. 31)