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Environment | Think Out Loud

Wood Stoves Pose Threat To Public Health

Daniel Morrison (Flickr)

Oregon and six other states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying it has not adequately regulated pollution coming from wood stoves. The Oregon Attorney General’s office has highlighted Oakridge and Klamath Falls as two communities that don’t meet air quality standards, due largely to wood stove use.

The suit alleges that the EPA’s standards — which were adopted 25 years ago and never revised — are out of date and include loopholes for certain types of polluting stoves. The fine particulate that wood stoves produce can contribute to a variety of health problems, from asthma and bronchitis to heart disease and premature death.

Klamath Falls has taken the issue into its own hands. It issues a daily burn advisory that designates what kinds of stoves can be used. On the highest-risk days, which can be as frequent as three days a week, no wood stoves can be used (though people who use stoves as their sole source of heat can be exempted). It has also, with the help of state and federal funds, spearheaded a wood stove change-out program to help eliminate the use of old, inefficient stoves.

Do you use a wood stove? Do you live in a community where pollution from wood stoves is a problem? How has the pollution affected your life?

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