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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

 

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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

1 June 2004

Woodheater Action Plan to improve air quality


The woodheater industry has joined forces with Australian, New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, West Australian and Tasmanian Governments in developing an Action Plan to ensure Australian woodheaters comply with the Australian Standard for particle emissions.

The National Woodheater Audit Program found the majority of heaters tested in homes across Australia failed to comply with the Australian Standard for particle emissions from woodheaters. Many had serious design or labelling faults that could affect emissions performance.

"We were shocked with the results of the Audit Program," Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said today.

"I'm pleased to see this Action Plan directly addresses the findings from the National Woodheater Audit Program Report and will help combat wood smoke pollution and improve air quality.

"Woodheater emissions are a serious concern. In some regions, woodheaters can contribute as much as 85 percent of the atmospheric particle pollution during cooler months and can lead to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for particles being regularly exceeded.

"It is clear from the Audit Program that compliance by woodheater manufacturers needs to improve significantly to ensure woodheaters available for retail sale meet their certified performance and Australian emission standards.

"I'm very pleased with the response of manufacturers who have taken immediate steps to improve their manufacturing processes and upgrade their technology. I look forward to seeing these improvements translate into an increased level of compliance.

"The Action Plan will build on these improvements by ensuring woodheaters will comply with the Australian Standard for woodheater emissions."

Key elements of the Action Plan will be an ongoing audit to test all woodheaters over two years, improvements to the certification process, and anti-tampering provisions to make modifications to woodheaters more difficult.

Minister Kemp also released today the results of a study into personal exposure to air toxics from woodsmoke.

"The Woodsmoke Personal Exposure Monitoring Study, conducted recently in Launceston, showed personal exposure to air toxics was two to three times higher in winter as a likely result of increased woodheater usage. It also showed exposure was principally influenced by outdoor levels of air toxics, rather than whether a woodheater was present in the home," he said.

"This demonstrates once again that wood smoke is an issue that affects the whole community. The Study also emphasises the importance of improving ongoing compliance by manufacturers to help reduce emissions and improve the quality of the air that we all breathe — the Action Plan will ensure this."

The Australian Government has also targeted wood smoke pollution through the successful $2.05m Natural Heritage Trust Launceston Woodheater Rebate Program which funded the replacement of some 1850 woodheaters with cleaner technology.

More information on the National Woodheater Audit Program, Action Plan and Woodsmoke Personal Exposure Monitoring Study is available from www.deh.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality.

Further Information

Commonwealth of Australia