As the weather turns colder, Upper Hunter Shire Council is advising residents on how to reduce air pollution from wood heaters.
A clean chimney, using the right wood and running the heater efficiently, will help reduce the human health impact on you and your neighbours as well as the environmental impact, Mayor Wayne Bedggood said.
Pollutants in the smoke may include gasses such as carbon monoxide, organic compounds, including air toxins and fine particles.
Each year Council receives a few complaints about wood smoke having an impact on local air quality. Complaints are investigated in accordance with the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and if the issue can’t be resolved, Council officers may issue a Smoke Abatement Notice where warranted.
· always burn small logs of aged, dry hardwood – unseasoned wood has more moisture and is more likely to smoke;
· store firewood under cover in a dry ventilated area; freshly cut wood needs to be stored for eight to 12 months;
· never burn rubbish, driftwood or treated or painted wood. These pollute the air and can be poisonous;
· when lighting a cold heater use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly;
· stack wood loosely in the firebox so air can circulate – don't cram the firebox full;
· turn off the warm air circulation fan when lighting up and when refuelling;
· keep the flame lively and bright; your fire should only smoke for a few minutes when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading;
· don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame;
· check your chimney regularly – if there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire;
· clean the chimney every year, to prevent creosote build-up.
In winter, domestic wood fires are the largest contributor to fine particles, which are 2.5 microns and smaller in diameter, according to a recently released report on Upper Hunter air quality. ("Fine Particles Characterisation Study" of Muswellbrook and Singleton by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Health, with co-investment from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)).
Upper Hunter Shire Council
Phone: 02 6540 1130
Upper Hunter Shire Council is a local government authority and provides an extensive array of services including health and building; town planning; aged care; sporting and recreational facilities; roads; libraries; garbage collection; airport facilities; saleyards; public venues; water; children, youth and families and tourist information.