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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

17 June 1999

STONE LAUNCHES BREATHE THE BENEFITS CAMPAIGN


Energy efficiency, reducing air pollution and saving money are the three key strategies behind today's launch of the Federal Government's national awareness campaign aimed at reducing air pollution caused by woodsmoke during winter.

Sharman Stone MP, Federal Member for Murray and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, today officially launched the Breathe the Benefits campaign at BBQs Galore in Shepparton.

"Incorrectly building and inefficiently using woodheaters contributes up to 50% of air pollution during winter months."

"In particular, woodsmoke can be particularly damaging on the very cold, still nights, as people leave their fires burning overnight and woodsmoke remains low to the ground and doesn't dissipate," Mrs Stone said.

Although wood is a natural product its combustion generates more than 100 pollutants, emitting harmful chemicals, gasses, tar and oils into the air.

"Excessive woodsmoke can cause breathing problems like asthma, bronchitis and infections like pneumonia, and in other cases is known to cause cancer."

Mrs Stone said there were five simple, practical tips that households should remember when building a woodfire:

"By putting these simple tips into practice households will be making an important contribution to improving air quality, preventing health problems and also saving money by reducing maintenance and running costs."

"If you are thinking about buying a new woodheater this winter, you should also check the tag to make sure it complies with the Australian Safety Standard AS4013," Mrs Stone said.

"Don't forget if you want to collect your own firewood this winter you should obtain a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment first," Mrs Stone said.

Permits are available from the Victoria Lake Shell Service Station in Shepparton, Millers Mowers/Motorcycles Cobram, and Mooroopna Mowers and Chainsaws and cost $11 per cubic metre. Pensioner and approved concessions are $6.

"It is vitally important that people don't cut down Redgums or other native trees for firewood as they are important habitats for native birds, insects and other wildlife. Trees, even dead freestanding trees can support diverse living, ecological communities."

The DNRE has established specially designated areas for wood collection, and is urging people to collect wood only from fallen trees and to take the "utmost care".

The Breathe the Benefits campaign is an initiative of the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust, the largest environmental rescue package ever undertaken by an Australian Government.

A Breathe the Benefits information kit is available from the Shepparton electorate office by telephoning 03 5821 9003 or calling the national hotline on freecall 1800 065 823.

For further information please contact:
Michael Christo, Media Adviser, 03 5821 9003 or
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia