While all smoke is harmful, old style outdoor wood boilers generate more particulate pollution than indoor wood stoves. The units are designed to burn wood at lower combustion temperatures and generally have shorter stacks which emit smoke at house level. Wood smoke releases fine particulates ("soot"), carbon monoxide, and other toxic pollutants. While the new certified OWBs produce less smoke, wood smoke in any form is a potential human health problem. As more and more families turn to wood for their energy, the devices they use need to be cleaner and cleaner in order to maintain Vermont’s air quality.
Children, whose lungs are still developing, and people with health, heart or lung problems such as coronary artery disease, asthma, or emphysema are especially affected by smoke. Legitimate health concerns account for the majority of nuisance complaints and have resulted in many municipalities and states passing regulations to protect the public health.
Concerns about health impacts and general air pollution have prompted states in the Northeast and Midwest and the US EPA to adopt programs limiting the smoke from OWBs. Manufacturing are cooperating and redesigning their OWBs to meet new particulate emission standards.
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