Archive for the ‘Other Communities’ Efforts’ Category

Indiana homeowners can receive up to 100% funding to replace their old outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) with new solar, geothermal, or geothermal/solar combination systems, swapping out neighborhood scourges for zero-emission, renewable solutions.

The “It’s Doable, Go Renewable” program is overseen by the Hoosier Environmental Council, administered by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, and supported by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club.

There are around 8,000 Outdoor Wood Boilers throughout Indiana. When these devices are poorly constructed or operated, OWBs can make it very difficult for people to breathe who live downwind from them. We’re thrilled by a $500,000 grant opportunity that will allow for the replacement of the dirtiest soot-producing OWBs with clean, renewable energy. Everyone benefits here: the OWB owner gets a brand-new, clean source of energy. Neighbors no longer suffer from OWB smoke. And we help support Hoosier homegrown solar & geothermal entrepreneurs. — Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council

Factsheet: What’s The Deal With Outdoor Wood Boilers?

The program application period runs from October 14, 2015 to December 31, 2015. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Homeowners with an Indiana address.
  2. Currently operate an OWB to meet their home heating needs.
  3. Willing to replace their OWB with a zero-emission solar photovoltaic, geothermal, or combination system.

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PBS: NY Wood Boiler Documentary #1 26:46

To watch the video, click on the image or this link: http://video.wcny.org/video/2365087958

Rural New Yorkers are being smoked out of their homes by neighbors who use wood boilers (also called hydronic heaters) to heat their homes. PBS Insight host Susan Arbetter examines the controversy and uncovers a lack of adequate protection for neighbors’ health and safety. Interviewed: residents Bonnie Lichak and Jean Neidhardt, Peter Iwanawicz with the American Lung Association, and wood boiler advocates Jeff Williams, NY Farm Bureau, and Phil Gitlen, Central Boiler attorney and partner with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna. Features include the Central Boiler E-Classic 2400, an EPA Phase 2 hydronic heater.

More on the video including action alert: 2013 Sept 27 post: PBS show Insight with Susan Arbetter about Wood Boilers on RAWSEP – Residents Against Wood Smoke Emission Particulates

Contact: Clean Air Rights for Everyone of NY: http://www.careny.org  info@careny.org

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  Utah Physicians for a Health Environment on Facebook!

NORTH SALT LAKE —Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said the science is solid that wood smoke is extremely toxic, even more than cigarette smoke.

“We need the community to understand that wood burning is a public health hazard any time of the year and we simply need to phase it out, just like we did smoking in public places and for exactly the same reasons.”

“And it’s as big a contributor to our air pollution as all our cars,” he said. “We are not going to solve our air pollution problem without getting much stricter on prohibiting wood burning.”

The group gave a presentation Wednesday afternoon at the Utah Air Quality monthly board meeting. Members are asking the board to endorse the idea of phasing out all non-essential wood burning in non-attainment counties.

Source: Utah doctors propose eliminating use of wood burning stoves 10/2/2013 Standard Examiner

SALT LAKE CITY — Just as smoking cigarettes in an enclosed public place is harmful and no longer legal, a group of physicians said burning wood or coal in a fireplace or stove is a practice that has come and should go — especially in regions where Utah struggles with air quality.

“It is long overdue that we consider putting wood smoke into the community airshed as inappropriate,” said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

“Wood smoke is an extremely toxic, public health hazard,” he said, pointing to Environmental Protection Agency numbers that show lifetime exposure to wood smoke is 12 times greater than being exposed to the equivalent amount of secondhand smoke.

Moench is going to make the case against what he calls the “air pollution elephant in the room” Wednesday to the Utah Air Quality Board during its regular monthly meeting.

Source: Physicians group targets fireplaces and fuel burning stoves 10/1/2013 Deseret News

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The Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute has been given a $970,979 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the effects of indoor pollution caused by using wood-burning cooking stoves.

For more on the study, see: LRRI receives Gates Foundation grant to study wood stove smoke 6/21/2013 Albuquerque Business First.

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WildEarth Guardians published this news release on their lawsuit against EPA for failing to follow the Clean Air Act in Utah. The WildEarth Guardians case applies particularly to the four areas that failed to submit State Implementation Plans (SIPs) as required: San Joaquin, California; Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah; and Fairbanks, Alaska. Of these four nonattainment areas that failed to submit SIPs, Alaska is the farthest behind–Alaska has not released a draft SIP for public review and does not have statutory citation authority to enforce air pollution controls.

>> Link: DONATE to WildEarth Guardians

>> Link: News Release – WildEarth Guardians Challenges EPA to Restore Clean Air in Utah


Lawsuit Targets Failure of Agency to Ensure Public Health is Protected from Deadly Particulate Pollution, Has Nationwide Implications Contact: Jeremy Nichols (303)437-7663  http://www.wildearthguardians.org

Thursday, May 16, 2013, Denver—WildEarth Guardians late yesterday filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to ensure the State of Utah is cleaning up particulate pollution and safeguarding public health in the Salt Lake City region in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

“The State of Utah is putting public health behind the interests of polluters, in violation of the Clean Air Act,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director.  “This suit is about compelling the EPA to stand up for clean air in Salt Lake City and neighboring communities, as well as across the nation.”

At issue is the EPA’s failure to ensure Utah is meeting deadlines to clean up fine particle pollution, otherwise known as PM2.5, under the Clean Air Act.  The suit has nationwide implications as other states, including Alaska, California, Arizona, and a number of eastern states, have similarly failed to meet deadlines to clean up fine particle pollution.

PM2.5 refers to particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter, or 1/28th the width of a human hair.  PM2.5 has been a plague in the Salt Lake region, often referred to as the Wasatch Front.  Since the early 1990’s, the region has regularly violated federal health standards limiting PM2.5.  Currently, much of the region—including all or portions of the Utah Counties of Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele, Weber, Box Elder, and Cache, as well as a portion of Franklin County, Idaho to the north of Cache County—is designated by the EPA as a “nonattainment” area due to ongoing violations of federal health standards.

Comprised of dust, heavy metals, and acid gases, particulate matter is linked to increased respiratory symptoms and difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, asthma attacks, and even premature death in people with heart or lung disease.  See http://www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/health.html.  Every year, between 1,000 and 2,000 Utahns die prematurely because of particulate pollution.  Exposure to particulate pollution along the Wasatch Front shaves two years from the lives of people who live in it, about one quarter of the impact of a pack a day smoking habit.

This past January, Wasatch Front cities, including Salt Lake City, experienced the country’s worst air pollution, with recorded PM2.5 levels four times higher than federal health standards.  Current standards limit concentrations of PM2.5 to no more than 35 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period.  According to monitoring data available on the EPA’s AirData website, concentrations in 2013 reached as high as 125 micrograms per cubic meter in Utah County, 97 micrograms per cubic meter in Cache County, and 69 micrograms per cubic meter in Salt Lake County.

Under the Clean Air Act, the State of Utah was required to submit by June 14, 2011 a plan to clean up the Wasatch Front’s PM2.5 pollution.  This plan was required to ensure that pollution controls were implemented by December 14, 2013, and that the federal limits on PM2.5 pollution were met by December 14, 2015.

To date, the State of Utah has yet to submit a plan to the EPA to ensure PM2.5pollution is cleaned up along the Wasatch Front.  Not only that, but the State of Utah has indicated it is not likely to clean up the region’s PM2.5 pollution until 2019.

“Clean air delayed is clean air denied,” said Nichols.  “Utah’s pro-pollution stance and continued foot-dragging is a recipe for disaster, both economically and environmentally.  We need intervention from the EPA to ensure this mess is cleaned up and we need it now.”

Where a state fails to submit a plan required under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to issue a formal “finding of failure to submit.”  This finding triggers a two-year deadline during which the state must submit a plan and EPA must approve it, or EPA must promulgate its own plan, otherwise known as a federal plan.

Other states have similarly failed to submit PM2.5 clean up plans under the Clean Air Act to bring nonattainment areas into compliance by the dates required by the Clean Air Act.  This is because, in part, the EPA promulgated rules that not only allowed the states more time to submit their plans, but that also allowed them to submit weaker plans than were required by the Clean Air Act.  These rules were held to be illegal in January 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit.

Although WildEarth Guardians’ suit does not explicitly address other states, if successful, it will ensure EPA follows through to ensure all states, including Utah, clean up their PM2.5 pollution more quickly, as required by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado because the EPA Region 8 office, which oversees air quality in Utah, is headquartered in Denver.

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Doctors advise waiting or getting out of Utah’s bad air to conceive. The same goes double in Fairbanks and North Pole where particulate concentrations are far higher for many more days than in Utah.

You wouldn’t smoke cigarettes when you’re pregnant. Don’t breathe polluted air either.

A group of doctors points to studies showing that exposure to PM 2.5, as in Utah during inversions, may lower birth weight.

Try to conceive in mid- to late-spring, after the inversion is over. That probably gives [a woman] the best window of opportunity for the critical first three months [for the fetus] to develop under the least amount of pollution,” said Brian Moench, anesthesiologist and president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. Better yet, he says, “get out of Salt Lake City to conceive.”

The docs were responding to the recent release of a massive multi-country, 3-million-birth study that showed the risk of having a baby of low birth weight — meaning less than 5 lbs. 8 oz. — jumps 10 percent for each 10 μg/m3 increase in fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). The risk was calculated for exposure during the entire pregnancy and adjusted for maternal socioeconomic status.

Why is low birth weight a concern?

“Babies who are born too small for their gestational age are at increased risk of a variety of morbidity outcomes either during infancy or during childhood—things like increased risk of infection, they could be at risk of neurodevelopmental problems later in childhood, and now we know from very interesting research that even the effects that occur early in gestation, which may be manifested through observing this low birth weight, can also be a marker for increased risk of adult disease—so, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of diabetes and other types of metabolic disorders.” — Tracey Woodruff, researcher, Center for Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Links to the study and news coverage:

Maternal Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution and Term Birth Weight: A Multi-Country Evaluation of Effect and Heterogeneity

3 million births, 14 centers from 9 countries, 29 researchers, 95% confidence interval

An Unlikely Duo: Air Pollution’s Link to Low Birth Weight, interview with one of the researchers – Tracey Woodruff [podcast] [transcript]

Global Push: Multicontinent Project Assesses Particulate Matter and Birth Weight 3/1/2013 Environmental Health Perspectives

Docs: Wait – or get out of Utah’s bad air – to conceive 2/15/2013 Salt Lake Tribune

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 Review this NPR article: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Sickness: Wood Smoke now a major Northwest air polluter 12/16/2011.

Methods discussed or in effect to reduce PM 2.5 pollution:

  • Label wood as carcinogenic
  • Prohibit installation of wood stoves not meeting standards or require their removal [Washington state’s standards are more restrictive than EPA’s certified stove program or EPA’s Phase 2 qualified program for hydronics.]
  • Allow agencies to declare burn bans at lower pollution levels to better head off extreme pollution events
  • Prohibit “any visible smoke” during burn bans, rather than allowing smoke within prescribed opacity limits
  • Further restrict fine particle pollution from other sources such as cars, trucks, and ships
  • Use infrared vision devices to detect smoke emissions at night
  • Expand the number of inspectors
  • Require stoves not meeting standards to be removed when the property is sold  [Many property sales agreements in the Northwest already include this requirement.]
  • Provide economic assistance to support transitions to cleaner heating systems — that funding is running out in Washington state

Just one of these methods — change-out funds — has been put to work reducing winter smoke pollution in Fairbanks and North Pole.

The good news is these methods work on winter smoke.
Washington and Oregon counties are kicking the winter smoke habit. In 2010, Washington counties with winter smoke [Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish] dropped to none or just one day. King (Seattle) had a single Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups day in 2010. Oregon counties with winter smoke [Klamath, Lake, Lane] also made major headway. The highest number was Lane County (Eugene) Oregon that had 4 USG days in 2010. The Pacific Northwest deserves credit for working to breathe healthy air every day.

Fairbanks had 22 USG and 2 Unhealthy days in 2010.


EPA’s AIRNow AirCompare compare counties within a state and review monthly averages and historical profiles yourself

EPA’s AIRNow AirCompare – 2010 state summaries for Alaska, Washington, and Oregon

Compare 2010 monthly averages for up to 10 counties within a state This link is great for figuring out when to visit (or not to visit) an area). At the top of the form, select “Asthma or other lung disease” or “Older adults and children” so the graphs show the number of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups days as well as Unhealthy. To get the number of air pollution days during 2001 to 2010, follow the historical profiles link at the top of your monthly average search result.

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