U.S. EPA Announces First Standards in a Generation Limiting Toxic Emissions from Wood-burning Devices | American Lung Association

U.S. EPA Announces First Standards in a Generation Limiting Toxic Emissions from Wood-burning Devices

Statement from Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO, American Lung Association

(February 4, 2015) - Washington, D.C.

"The American Lung Association welcomes new standards for new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These new standards are an important step forward to help protect the health of Americans. Wood smoke is a significant source of air pollution that harms human health, especially for people with asthma and other lung diseases.

"The new EPA standards—the first in 27 years—will require new devices to incorporate technologies to cut harmful emissions by up to 70 percent. For the first time ever, the standards set official limits on emissions from several devices, including hydronic heaters, also known as outdoor and indoor wood boilers, devices that are used year-round.

"These standards will help protect neighbors and communities from toxic air pollutants. Emissions from wood-burning boilers, furnaces and other similar high polluting devices include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and recognized carcinogens, including benzene and formaldehyde. These pollutants cause a range of adverse health effects including asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer and premature deaths.

"The standards announced today apply only to new boilers, furnaces and stoves and will not apply to wood-burning devices currently in use. Unfortunately, the EPA gave the industry five years to produce the stoves and heaters meeting the stronger limits, an unusually long phase in time. With such a long delay before the cleaner units become fully in the market, many families seeking cleaner units will buy devices that produce far more dangerous air pollution than necessary.

In October 2013, the American Lung Association filed legal action to require the EPA to update the 1988 standards to incorporate greater protection for the public. The Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Council, and Environment and Human Health, Inc., all represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit over the EPA's failure to update emissions standards for new high-emitting sources of dangerous particles as required by the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review emissions standards for health harming sources of air pollution every eight years, so the 1988 standard should have been updated beginning in 1996. The EPA adopted voluntary standards for outdoor wood boilers in 2010, but most industry boilers did not meet these voluntary standards."

For media interested in speaking with an expert about this or other healthy air policies, contact the American Lung Association at media@lung.org or 312-801-7628.

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