By Jay Baker
You’ve probably heard that pollution from cars is the most significant source of the precursors that form fine particulates (PM2.5) during our wintertime inversions. But did you know that wood-burning also contributes to the problem?
That’s why the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is happy to announce that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded over $9.5 million to the state to reduce pollution from wood stoves through their Targeted Airshed Grant Program. DAQ will use this funding to help residents convert their wood stoves and fireplaces to cleaner options.
Replacing an old, uncertified wood stove with an EPA-certified stove, for example, can reduce the amount of fine particulates emitted into the air by 60 percent. Converting an uncertified wood stove to a natural gas stove helps even more, reducing particulate pollution by 99.9 percent. Over the course of this five-year program, thousands of wood stoves will be replaced with cleaner-burning devices, resulting in much less pollution along the Wasatch Front and Cache Valley.
Anyone who has a wood burning stove, fireplace, or insert and lives in the PM2.5 nonattainment area is eligible for rebates under this grant. The nonattainment areas are the yellow portion of the map to the left. It covers all of Salt Lake and Davis counties and part of Utah, Tooele, Weber, Box Elder, and Cache counties.
Unlike many sources of fine particulates, wood-burning emits PM2.5 directly into the air. DAQ conducted a wintertime wood-smoke study in 2016 that collected PM2.5 measurements and analyzed them for a specific chemical marker from wood-burning. Data analysis of these measurements indicate that emissions from wood burning contribute an appreciable amount of pollution during winter inversions in the PM2.5 nonattainment areas in northern Utah, even during mandatory no-burn periods.
Because of the huge reductions for any kind of wood stove change out or conversion, DAQ will offer rebates for those who wish to:
- Convert any wood burning stove, fireplace, or insert to natural gas or propane
- Change out an uncertified wood stove or insert for an EPA-certified version
- Turn over their wood stove for a bounty
The size of your rebate will depend on your annual household income and whether you chose to change out, convert, or turn in a wood stove for a bounty. The table below shows the rebate amount for each of the options.
Over the next few months, staff at the DAQ will be working with certified vendors, installers, and recyclers who will participate in the program. We will also set up a website with additional information about the program along with an online application process.
PM2.5 pollution leads to wintertime inversions, causes respiratory and other health problems, and harms our air quality. Changing out your wood stove is one way you can help us all breathe a little easier.
Rebates for the wood stove program will become available later this year. We hope many of you will consider replacing your old wood stoves during the five-year program. Keep your eye on www.deq.utah.gov for more information.
I am a State Ozone Coordinator at the Division of Air Quality. I’ve been here for about three years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I graduated from BYU and USU and would like to eventually get another degree from a major university in Utah. I’m committed to making our great state a healthier place to live. While I was born and raised in Utah, I’ve had the opportunity to explore such far-flung places as Ireland, Brazil, and Idaho. Though it is unusual for someone living in Utah, I enjoy being outdoors. My favorite activities are camping, taking my kids on forced walks through the woods, cycling, and gardening.