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EPA’s Great American Woodstove Changeout Comes to the Pittsburgh Area with a $100,000 Grant for Low-income Families- Manufacturers Also Provide Rebates for the General Public to Upgrade Older, Polluting Woodstoves

Release Date: 09/29/2005
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Contact: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113/

(9/29/05) We’ve all heard the predictions of higher home heating bills this winter. And stoking up the woodstove is certainly an attractive alternative.

But old woodstoves can be leaky and inefficient. Not only do older models use more wood than newer stoves (something to consider now that the cost of wood is on the rise), but they produce more air pollution -- indoors and out. And the fine particle pollution that you breathe in from woodsmoke can hurt your health.

Across the country, more than 10 million Americans use woodstoves as a primary or secondary source of home heating. In the Pittsburgh area alone, there are 40,000 wood stoves. Most of the stoves in use today -- more than 75 percent -- are older stoves that emit a significant amount of pollution. A single dirty woodstove directly emits as much fine particle pollution as seven old dirty diesel buses.

As part of a national effort to replace older woodstoves, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today awarded $100,000 to the Southwest Air Quality Partnership to conduct a woodstove changeout campaign for low-income families. The Allegheny County Health Department has also contributed an additional $80,000 to kick-off the initiative.

Today’s event, held at the Carnegie Science Center, also featured demonstrations by woodstove manufacturers and retailers including an explanation on how the new woodstove technology reduces pollution.

The combined $180,000 grant will be used to provide cleaner-burning EPA-certified woodstoves, pellet stoves, fireplace inserts, electric or gas heating units to low income families, who are currently using the older, polluting units. Additionally, participating woodstove manufacturers and retailers, members of the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association, are providing rebates of up to 10 percent to the general public in an effort to encourage woodstove replacement.

“The start-up of this campaign is not only timely, but incredibly important as we brace ourselves for the predicted sky-rocketing costs we’ll incur to keep our homes heated this winter,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA regional administrator for the mid-Atlantic region. “And for lower income families the situation poses an even greater financial hardship.”

“As a founding member of the Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership, the Allegheny County Health Department is pleased to support the Woodstove Changeout with an $80,000 grant from the County Clean Air Fund,” said Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.

“The project benefits public health by improving ambient as well as indoor air quality, and our grant along with the EPA funding ensures that a limited number of economically disadvantaged families will have the financial assistance they need in order to replace their old woodstoves,” Dr. Dixon added.

During today’s presentation, Welsh said that replacing older stoves with EPA-certified units can dramatically reduce wood smoke by 70 percent on average. “Clean-burning stoves are more efficient than older stoves. They use less wood and that can cut the cost of home heating,” said Welsh, who added that newer stoves also reduce fire hazards associated with creosote buildup in chimneys.

Fine particles are particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less -- about 1/30th the size of the average human hair, or smaller. Exposure to fine particle pollution has been linked to a number of serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma and the development of chronic bronchitis, to heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, and even premature death in people with heart and lung disease.

The Pittsburgh area woodstove effort is part of the Great American Woodstove Changeout Campaign, EPA's effort to encourage Americans to replace inefficient, more polluting woodstoves with EPA-certified woodstoves, pellet stoves or fireplace inserts, or with electric or gas heating units. Work is starting now so the new units will be in place in time for winter. In the first year of the campaign, EPA also is working with changeout efforts underway in the greater Dayton, Ohio area, Libby, Montana, and Washoe County, Nevada.

For more information on clean-burning woodstoves, go to: .