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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 keep residences warm, but they also threaten residents’ health if their emissions aren’t controlled. Fortunately, EPA recognized the danger and set pollution limits … in 1988. Since then, the agency has skipped three legally mandated junctures to update its standards and ensure health is still being protected. Meanwhile, the sale of heaters not covered by the 1988 standards has proliferated.

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 It didn’t. As a result of EPA’s inaction, homeowners every year install out-of-date units that emit fine particles, including carcinogens.

Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of a coalition of national and regional health and environmental groups to spur the agency to action. Better technology exists, and it’s time—far past time, in fact—that EPA require that it be used.

Case ID



Case Updates

October 10, 2013 | Blog Post

EPA Sued Over Outdoor Heaters Spewing Soot

Many Americans are looking to escape high heating bills and have found what seems to be the perfect solution: outdoor wood boilers. But they aren't as innocuous as they may look.

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