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Cutting Harmful Emissions From Wood Boilers And Furnaces

Smoke from a wood boiler. The devices emit high volumes of hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens.

Smoke from a wood boiler. The devices emit high volumes of hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens.

Photo courtesy of Michael Hoy

What's at Stake

Earthjustice is suing the EPA to update air pollution standards for wood boilers and furnaces—one of the largest sources of particle pollution—that haven’t been updated since 1988.

Case Overview

Wood boilers and furnaces used for residential heating discharge large amounts of smoke and soot that is harmful to human health. Fortunately, the EPA recognized this danger and in 1988 put emission limits on some of these sources of air pollution. But since then, the agency has failed to take legally mandated steps to review its emission limits, while sales of devices not covered by the 1988 standards have grown significantly.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review emissions standards for harmful sources of air pollution every eight years. Under the law, the EPA should have reviewed and updated its wood heater standards in 1996, 2004 and 2012. It didn’t.

Earthjustice is suing the agency to force badly needed updates. The agency’s inaction means that every year homeowners install out-of-date units that emit fine particles, including carcinogens. Better technology exists, and it’s time—far past time, in fact—that EPA require that it be used.

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