Health Officials Consider Rules For Wood-Fired Boilers

Jan 23, 2012

The Allegheny County Health Department is trying to figure out how to best regulate emissions from wood-fired boilers used to heat homes. The department has been seeing an increasing number of complaints about smoke as the popularity of the devices grows. However, there weren't many residents attending a recent Board of Health public hearing on proposed regulations.

Jamin Bogi, Education and Outreach Coordinator with the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), said he was disappointed by the poor turnout at the public hearing, considering the number of calls and emails he receives in his office. He said the smoke emitted from the heaters is dirty and very harmful.

"Wood smoke is full of toxins that damage you in pretty much any way you can imagine, from cancers to heart attacks," Bogi said. "It's similar to cigarette smoke or diesel emissions."

The new regulations proposed would prevent wood-fire boiler use on Air Quality Action days when the risk of pollutants reaching unhealthy levels is high. It would also regulate the types of wood used to burn in the boilers. There are also height and minimum setback requirements for new heaters.

The Board of Health is accepting comments by email, fax, or mail until January 24. The board will vote on the regulations at their next meeting on Wednesday, March 7.