Woodburning & Air QualityContact: Environmental Assistance Center, 800-662-9278Agency: Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Wood burning has been a part of Michigan's heritage. Homeowners choosing to use fireplaces and woodstoves need to understand that healthy indoor and outdoor air quality requires good wood burning habits. The following guidelines for responsible wood burning minimize health problems and help keep the environment clean. For Open Burning information, visit the open burning web page.
Wood Burning Tips
- Know When to Burn
- Monitor all fires; never leave a fire unattended.
- Upgrade an older woodstove to one with a catalytic combustor that burns off excess pollutants.
- Be courteous when visitors come to your home. Wood smoke can cause problems for people with developing or sensitive lungs (i.e. children, the elderly) and people with lung disease
- Know What to Burn
- Split large pieces of wood into smaller pieces and make sure it has been seasoned (allowed to dry for a year). Burning fresh cut logs = smoky fires.
- When buying wood from a dealer, do not assume it has been seasoned.
- Season your fuel wood.
- Small hot fires are more efficient and less wasteful than large fires.
- Never burn chemically treated wood or non-wood materials.
- Manufactured fire logs provide a nice ambience, have the least impact to air quality, and are a good choice for homeowners who use a fireplace infrequently.
- Know How to Burn
- Proper combustion is key. Make sure your wood fire is not starved. If excess smoke is coming from the chimney or stack, the fire isn't getting enough air.
- Visually check your chimney or stack 10 to 15 minutes after you light a fire to ensure it is not emitting excess amounts of smoke.
- Homeowners should have woodstoves and fireplaces serviced and cleaned yearly to ensure they are working properly.
Outdoor Wood Boilers
- Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB) Fact Sheet
- OWB Photos are Worth a Thousand Words
- Conventional (High Polluting) OWB Plume Data
- High-Efficiency (Clean) OWB Plume Data
- Smoke Gets in Your Lungs. This is a report which documents health problems associated with OWB.
- Outdoor Boilers - Wood Heat Organization, Inc. Info
- OWB Technical Handbook - Environment Australia
Wood Burning Links
- Outdoor Burning Model Ordinance: A Guide for Michigan Counties, Cities, Villages, and Townships
- MSU Extension Service
Wood Smoke and Health Links
- Burning Issues. Public education about the hazards of exposure to wood smoke and pollution.
- Health Effects of Wood Smoke (WA)
- Wood Heat Organization, Inc. is a nonprofit, non-governmental agency committed to the responsible use of wood as a home heating fuel.
- Woodstoves: Will They be Outlawed? "The Chimney Sweep Online" overview of EPA woodstove emissions regulations.
- Fireplace Safety Tips
- Woodburning Study in Mio, Michigan 1983
- New York Times Article on Outdoor Wood Boilers