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CRS — EPA’s Proposed Wood Stove / Wood Heater Regulations: Frequently Asked Questions

June 5, 2014

EPA’s Proposed Wood Stove / Wood Heater Regulations: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On January 3, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed emission standards for new residential wood heaters, the most common of which are wood stoves, pellet stoves, hydronic heaters, and forced air furnaces. The proposal, which would revise standards for wood stoves and pellet stoves and establish standards for other types of wood heaters for the first time, appeared in the Federal Register on February 3. This began a public comment period that is scheduled to run until May 5, 2014.

According to EPA, smoke from wood heaters contributes “hundreds of thousands of tons” of fine particles to the air throughout the country each year, accounting for nearly 25% of all area source air toxics cancer risks and 15% of non-cancer respiratory effects. In many areas, in wintertime, wood heaters are the largest source of particulate air pollution; yet many heater types are not currently subject to any federal emission standard.

The proposed rule would only gradually reduce this pollution, because it would apply only to new heaters (not those already in use) and it would give the industry a five-year grace period before its most stringent standards would take effect. Wood heaters can last for 40 years or more, so it will be decades before the full health benefits of the rule would be attained.

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