Clearing The Air About Wood Smoke


Smoke created by wood burning can be a significant source of air pollution, but you can change that.

Burning wood in a small fireplace. Close-up

It’s that season once again where we’re all looking to warm up by a fire.

Wood stoves can be a central part of your household life and a classic source of coziness during those chilly winter months. But, they can also be a significant source of air pollution.

Luckily, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has posted these tips on Cleaner Wood Stove Burning to their website.

Your community may have more rules about the use of wood stoves and fireplaces, so be sure to check local regulations. DEQ also encourages people around the state to consider cozy alternatives to burning wood. Particularly on days with stagnant air caused by inversions, it is best for everyone’s health to not burn in a wood stove or fireplace.

“You need other heat,” whether that’s an extra sweater, a warm drink or an efficient furnace, said Peter Brewer, non-attainment area coordinator for DEQ. Brewer works with communities that don’t meet federal air quality standards due to wood smoke.

Financial help for replacement

​DEQ has funded city and county programs to help homeowners replace old wood stoves with more efficient sources of heat that cause less pollution. Active programs are available in Washington County, Klamath County and, with the aid of the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, Oakridge.

Click here for Washington County wood stove exchange program.

Click here for Klamath County wood stove change out.

Click here for Oakridge Air home heating upgrades.

Why it matters

​Wintertime woodsmoke is a significant source of air pollution in Oregon, including fine particulates and air toxics that have health effects. So, seemingly small decisions, such as building efficient fires and not dampening down wood stoves overnight, contribute to better air quality in a community, said Travis Knudsen, public affairs manager at the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency in Springfield.

“All those kinds of choices are small, minor things to do, but they can result in quite a bit of reduction of smoke from a fire,” he said.

About Author

DEQ Communications

Comments are closed.