2009 Dec. 10: CT: CT Atty. Gen. calls for statewide ban on Outdoor Wood Furnaces (OWBs)

Connecticut Attorney General’s Office

Press Release

Attorney General, Health Advocates Call For Statewide Ban On Outdoor Wood Furnaces

December 9, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today called on the General Assembly to ban outdoor wood-burning furnaces, which continuously emit toxic smoke that sickens neighbors and pollutes neighborhoods.
The American Lung Association and Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), a nonprofit health advocacy group, joined Blumenthal in urging the legislature to impose a statewide prohibition on the furnaces.
Three Connecticut towns — Granby, Hebron and Tolland — have already banned outdoor wood-burning furnaces. Washington State also prohibits the devices.
Blumenthal said, "Outdoor wood-burning furnaces spew toxic smoke 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sickening neighbors and contaminating neighborhoods. A ban is necessary unless and until these furnaces are completely redesigned — to stop their toxic impacts. Outdoor wood furnaces emit the same toxins and carcinogens as cigarettes. The smoke particles are so fine that they infest even the tightest houses and strongest lungs, contaminating bodies and homes.
"These furnaces are a major and malignant menace, causing whole neighborhoods not only sore eyes and throats, but serious chronic respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia. They burn wood at relatively low temperature, emit huge smoke amounts close to the ground and send millions of small soot particles into the air. They have met no federal standards for safety and health.
"Complaints have dramatically proliferated as these furnaces become more prevalent — more homeowners burning wood in outdoor furnaces to avoid higher cost oil or natural gas in tough economic times. Homeowners have no right to pollute their neighborhoods — raising risks of serious disease requiring inhalers and steroids and other common medical treatment.
"These outdoor wood-burning furnaces are drastically different from indoor woods stoves, which are certified under federal standards and therefore should not be banned. A statewide ban on outdoor wood-burning furnaces will spare our state this threat to human health and the environment," Blumenthal said.
EHHI President Nancy Alderman said, "Without a complete ban of these devices, there is really no way to protect the health of citizens in the state. Wood smoke has some of the same components as cigarette smoke, and therefore breathing wood smoke in 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is incredibly dangerous."
 

Environment and Human Health, Inc. Asks the State of Connecticut to Ban Outdoor Wood Boilers, also known as Outdoor Wood-Burning Furnaces

EHHI Press Release

Wood Smoke
Additional Resources
American Lung Association
Position Paper on Wood Smoke

Connecticut Attorney General’s
position on Wood Smoke

Public education information
on home outdoor wood-fired
heaters from the Lane Regional
Air Protection Agency

 

[Hartford, Connecticut, December 9, 2009] Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), a non-profit organization composed of nine physicians and public health professionals, is asking the State of Connecticut to ban Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces. These devices burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are relentless in the amount of thick smoke they emit—often polluting whole neighborhoods.
Three towns in Connecticut have already banned these devices—and the State of Washington has banned them throughout the entire state—because they are harmful to human health. The American Lung Association also supports this initiative.
EHHI has been receiving an ever-growing number of desperate phone calls from families who are being made sick by wood smoke emissions coming into their homes on a continuous basis from their neighbors’ wood-burning furnaces. Many of these people seek medical treatment and are given inhalers and steroids. Many suffer from bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia caused by the inhalation of wood smoke, which often necessitates prescription antibiotics as well. Many end up in emergency rooms.
These families come to EHHI only after they have exhausted all of Connecticut’s governmental and legal avenues. Because there are not sufficient laws in Connecticut to protect these people, they have only two options—to continue to be sick or to move. In this economy it is almost impossible to move.
Why is wood smoke a problem when it enters someone’s home on a continuous basis? Wood smoke contains many of the same chemicals as cigarette smoke. It is both an irritant and a carcinogen. It interferes with the normal lung development in infants and children. People who are exposed to their neighbors’ wood smoke suffer sore eyes and throats, and when the exposure continues, many suffer from chronic respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Wood smoke particles are so small that if the smoke is very close to a house, doors and windows cannot keep it out. Even new, energy-efficient and weather-tight houses cannot prevent wood smoke from entering homes.
EHHI Public Health Toxicologist David Brown, Sc.D., says, "The wood smoke particles are so small that they go deep into the lungs and deliver the chemicals that adhere to them into the human body. Recent studies show that exposures to wood smoke can lead to increased risks for heart attacks and damaged lungs, and can cause respiratory illnesses. Recent studies also show that cancers increase and death rates are higher in people exposed to wood smoke."
Leslie Balch, RN, MPH, Director of the Quinnipiack Valley Health District reports, "Many are being made sick by wood smoke emissions, and therefore local health directors need the right tools to help them. The words ‘wood smoke’ need to be included in the Conn. Public Health Code so that we can better help these people who are looking to us for assistance."
EHHI President Nancy Alderman adds, "These Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces need to be banned before further damage is done to the citizens of Connecticut. First, ‘wood smoke’ needs to be added to the Public Health Nuisance Code; and second, Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces, also known as Outdoor Wood Boilers, should be banned in the state.”

2009 Dec. 10: CT: Atty Gen of CT calls for ban on OWBs statewide

Blumenthal cites health concerns in call for ban on outdoor furnaces

By Jenna Cho

Publication: The Day

Published 12/10/2009 12:00 AM
Updated 12/10/2009 02:48 AM
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AG says he has received ‘hundreds’ of complaints

Outdoor wood furnaces, home-heating devices that have grown in popularity with the rise of oil and gas prices, "spew toxic smoke 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sickening neighbors and contaminating neighborhoods," according to state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
On Wednesday, Blumenthal called for a state ban on outdoor wood furnaces, or standalone wood-fired boilers that heat water to warm homes and provide hot water. Washington is the only state thus far to have banned their use, Blumenthal said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection regulates outdoor-furnace installations but warns of their potentially harmful effects on human health and the environment.
The towns of Granby, Hebron and Tolland have banned their use at the local level.
"The wood itself has been tested and shown to have chemicals that at the very least can irritate the eyes and nose and lungs, and it has been shown to have small (particulate matter) that can lodge in lungs," Blumenthal said Wednesday. "The only question is how severe a hazard it is. … We believe that it’s sufficiently serious that there should be a ban unless, and until, these furnaces can be redesigned."
Locally, Matthew Abrams’ complaint concerning his neighbors’ outdoor wood furnace in Lyme has drawn attention to the issue. Abrams, who owns the property next door to Glenn "Chip" and Carol Dahlke’s Ashlawn Farm, claims the Dahlkes’ furnace "emits noxious odor and abundant smoke, affecting our health and well-being as well as that of the surrounding environment."
"We applaud the Attorney General’s announcement to ask the General Assembly to ban, statewide, all such devices," Abrams said in a written statement Wednesday. "This issue is what drove us over the past few months to pursue a complaint document against Ashlawn Farm."
But Glenn Dahlke said outdoor wood furnaces are safe if used properly.
"I’m sure that there are people who abuse these, and they can be highly polluting," Dahlke said. "And there are people who use these in a responsible manner, and they live in an area where the smoke isn’t going to blow over to the neighbor’s yard."
‘Hundreds’ of complaints
Complaints such as the Abramses’ on outdoor wood furnaces have been "in the hundreds" this year, Blumenthal said. He had no official tally on the number of complaints, and the DEP does not keep a record of how many outdoor wood furnaces are in use in the state. But complaints have come from residents all across the state, Blumenthal said.
"I became concerned about this issue because of the burgeoning number of complaints that both my office and the Department of Environmental Protection had been receiving," he said. "They are extraordinarily disturbed and concerned about the possible health effects, not to mention the nuisance of smoke and eye and throat irritation as well as possible longer-term, more serious health effects."
Outdoor wood furnaces are a popular alternative to the use of oil or gas to heat homes, but they emit more smoke than indoor wood stoves because they burn more slowly and at a lower temperature, according to the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services Web site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have emissions standards for outdoor furnaces as it does for indoor models.
Outdoor furnaces emit unhealthy levels of particulate matter, dioxin, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde, according to a state DEP brochure on furnaces that includes the slogan "Don’t Choke on the Smoke." One furnace can generate as much particulate matter as 3,000 to 8,000 homes that are heated with natural gas, according to the brochure.
The American Lung Association and the nonprofit Environment and Human Health Inc. (EHHI) have both supported a ban on the furnaces.
"Wood smoke contains many of the same chemicals as cigarette smoke," the EHHI stated in a press release Wednesday. "It is both an irritant and a carcinogen. It interferes with the normal lung development in infants and children. … Wood smoke particles are so small that if the smoke is very close to a house, doors and windows cannot keep it out."
j.cho@theday.com

I am living next to a person who installed one of these outside furnaces years ago, before there were any regulations on their use. These stoves are capable of burning any type of material from green wood, to household garbage, and even tires. These stoves are nothing short of incinerators, only they do not have air scrubbers on their stacks. Unlike inside wood stoves that are connected to chimneys, these furnaces do not have a twenty foot chimney to get the smoke above breathing level. On heavy atmospheric days with calm winds this pollution hangs close to the ground like fog. These odors permeate right into my home. Before you knock Blumenthal get your facts.
 
I would like to see some comments from people with some first-hand knowledge of these outdoor furnaces. The only one I know of sits on property where there are no immediate neighbors. Not everyone has that option, and I suspect they may very well be the nuisance this article suggests.

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