Woodsmoke & Health

In 2003 Tumut Shire Council participated in the Woodsmoke Reduction Program conducted by the NSW EPA . Tumut Shire, like many other towns in colder climate areas, has a relatively high percentage of wood heater use. It is also located in a valley, and in winter, atmospheric conditions can prevent the woodsmoke from dispersing.

How can I reduce Woodsmoke?
Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution in winter. Not only is a smoking fire wasting money, but the air pollution it causes can also affect our health. You can minimise air pollution by:

  • Always burning small logs of aged, dry hardwood – unseasoned wood has more moisture which makes a heater smoke
  • Storing wood under cover in a dry ventilated area; freshly cut wood needs to be stored for 8-12 months.
  •  Never burning rubbish, driftwood or treated or painted wood, which can pollute the air and can be poisonous.
  •  Using plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly when lighting a cold fire.
  •  Stacking wood loosely in your firebox so air can circulate – don’t cram the firebox full.
  •  Keeping the flame lively and bright; your fire should only smoke for a few minutes when you first light it and when you add extra fuel.
  •  Opening the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15-20 minutes after reloading.
  •  Not letting your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  •  Checking your chimney regularly – if there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  •  Cleaning the chimney every year to prevent creosote build up.
  •  Creosote is a sticky black residue that can build up in your chimney—it restricts air flow and makes your fire harder to start. A creosote-clogged chimney can spill smoke into your room when you open the heater, and even catch fire, putting your home at risk.

For more information on Woodsmoke visit:

NSW Environment (and Heritage) Page: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/woodsmoke/index.htm

Australian Government: http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/woodsmoke.html