Reducing emissions from woodheaters

Why are emissions associated with wood heaters a problem?

Emissions from wood heaters contain particulate matter and other pollutants. These emissions can be a significant contributor to ambient levels of air pollution during winter months. In some areas due to their geographical features, this is particularly so when a colder air layer lies over a warmer air layer (inversion layer).

Particulate matter is associated with health effects in humans, especially respiratory and cardiovascular effects.

Is there a national approach to minimising wood heater emissions?

The Council of Australian Governments has identified air quality as an area of national significance to be addressed under a National Plan for Clean Air.

The plan consists of several projects, including reducing wood heater emissions.

The Standing Council on Environment and Water commissioned the Consultation RIS for reducing emissions from wood heaters. On 11 April 2013, Council agreed to its release.

What can I do about reducing wood smoke?

Factors that can contribute to the amount and type of emissions produced by wood heaters include:

  • fuel moisture content
  • maintenance and cleanliness of the wood heater flue
  • wood heater operation.

Usually the major reason for excessive emissions is due to poor wood heater operation. If you use a wood heater, you can make a difference to the quality of the air you breathe by how you operate your wood heater.

There have also been technological improvements to wood heaters that could ensure that emissions are less dependent on operator skill. If you a looking for a new wood heater, ask the retailer to tell you about these options.

Who can I contact to find out more about reducing wood smoke in my district?

State and territory environment agencies often work in partnership with local councils to implement programs to reduce emissions from wood heaters. This often includes providing material on how to operate a wood heater better to reduce it smoking unnecessarily.

So check on your local council or state or territory environment agency websites to see if they can help.