U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Proposes First New Standards for New Wood Boilers and Furnaces in 25 years

Statement from the American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (January 3, 2014)

The American Lung Association welcomes the proposal of new standards for new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA set the current standards for wood-burning devices in 1988, years before the first of the landmark studies that demonstrated that particles like those that make up wood smoke can be deadly. Improved technologies in use today can greatly reduce the harmful pollution from these devices. The Lung Association calls on the EPA to adopt strong final standards that will help protect communities from toxic air pollutants.

In October 2013, the American Lung Association filed legal action to require the EPA to update the 25-year-old standards to incorporate greater protection for the public. 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 carcinogens. These pollutants are linked to a range of adverse health effects including asthma attacks and premature deaths. The EPA’s failure to update the standards has meant that homeowners install thousands of new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves each year that produce far more dangerous air pollution than cleaner units would.

Today’s proposal starts a process for public review and comment that the EPA must complete before issuing final standards. The American Lung Association will fully review and file detailed technical comments on the proposal. Once final, the standards will apply to new units, and would not affect existing boilers, furnaces or stoves.

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 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 EPA adopted voluntary standards for outdoor wood boilers in 2010, but most industry boilers do not meet these voluntary standards.


About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.  For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.