One of the major causes of air pollution during winter is smoke from wood heaters. This smoke can not only harm the environment but it can also harm your health and your respiratory system.
To help alleviate this issue, Wollongong City Council is working with the NSW Environment Protection Authority to reduce wood smoke in the city and we are seeking your help.
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery OAM said: “One of life’s pleasures is a well-lit fire on a cold winter’s night. But the effects on people’s lungs from the wood smoke from a smouldering or badly lit fire can have lasting health effects.”
“This is the reason people should ensure they have well dried and aged timber for their wood fire and also use the correct methods to keep the fire burning brightly.”
Council has information on how to produce less wood smoke this winter.
Some simple steps to reduce wood smoke pollution include:
- Don’t let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
- Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
- Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
- Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These are sure to pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
- When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
- Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don’t cram the firebox full.
- Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
- Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
- Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
- If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).
More detailed information is available from the Wood-Smoke handbook: Wood heaters, firewood and operator practice at http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/handbook/index.html .