Reducing Winter Air Pollution

With winter just around the corner Lithgow City Council residents are being asked to help improve winter air quality by ensuring they are using wood fire heaters correctly.

“Wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties, especially for people suffering existing respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, and for very young children and frail older people,” said Lithgow Council Mayor Stephen Lesslie.
“Winter is fast approaching and the focus is on the correct use of wood heaters. The incorrect use of wood fire heaters can seriously affect our air quality,” said Councillor Lesslie.

“Once the cold weather is upon us, wood smoke particles from inefficient heaters can be seen as a smoke haze that sometimes sits over built up areas. Not only is this sort of pollution unattractive, it can also be bad for our health,” said Councillor Lesslie.
Some simple steps to reduce wood smoke pollution are:

  1. Don’t let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  2. Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
  3. Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
  4. Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
  5. When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
  6. Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don’t cram the firebox full.
  7. Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
  8. Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  9. Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
  10. If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013).

Councillor Lesslie added “Let’s try and reduce the amount of wood smoke pollution this winter by using aged dry wood and running our heaters properly. With winter basically upon us, now is the time to have your chimney cleaned in preparation.”

Jim Nichols
Acting Group Manager Environment & Development
Tel: 02 6354 9999
Fax: 02 6351 4259

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