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Reduce Your Impact On Air Quality When Burning Wood This Winter

Reduce your impact on air quality this winter when burning wood.
Reduce your impact on air quality this winter when burning wood. Photo Credit: Flickr/Riccardo Cuppini

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. -- With colder weather on the way, the Department of Environmental Protection is reminding New Jersey residents to take steps to reduce their impact on air quality when burning wood for heat in fireplaces, wood stoves and outdoor wood boilers.

“As winter approaches, more homeowners turn to wood-burning fireplaces or wood stoves to heat their homes and save on heating costs,” John Giordano, Assistant Commissioner for Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability said in a statement. “With simple precautions and care, there’s much that can be done to minimize wood-burning emissions that impact the environment and the health of you and your neighbors.”

The DEP recommends following these guidelines for burning wood at home:

  • Allow wood to season before burning it. Seasoning entails allowing the wood to sit outdoors for at least six months. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.
  • Use a wood moisture meter to test the moisture content of wood. Wood burns most efficiently when its moisture content is below 20 percent.
  • Stack wood neatly off the ground with the top covered to protect the wood from rain and snow.
  • Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling. Keep fires burning hot.
  • Regularly remove ashes to ensure proper airflow.
  • Never burn garbage, cardboard, plastics, wrapping materials, painted materials or pressure-treated wood in your stove or fireplace.
  • Keep anything flammable - including drapes, furniture, newspapers and books - far away from any wood-burning appliance. Keep an accessible and recently inspected fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Consider using an indoor air HEPA filter in the same room as a stove or fireplace.
For more information on wood burning in New Jersey, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/baqp/woodburning.html

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