Air Quality Newsletter March 2014

Wood-Burning and Air Quality:  What You Should Know

In New Hampshire we value our natural beauty and clean, crisp air, but on some winter days dirty air can be found in valley communities. Occasionally a weather event known as a temperature inversion can occur in which cold air collects on the valley floor and warmer air higher in the atmosphere traps air and pollutants near the ground. At times, this cold air contains unhealthy levels of fine particle pollution. This fine particle pollution has been linked to adverse health effects such as asthma especially in individuals with respiratory problems, older adults, and young children. Fine partial pollution can even trigger heart conditions.

Health impacts are not the only threat.  In the past few years Keene has exceeded limits set by the federal Clean Air Act for fine particle pollution on certain days due to temperature inversions.  If the problem gets worse, the City of Keene and surrounding towns may be subject to potentially costly regulations to try to fix the problem.

Research has suggested that high levels of fine particle pollution are linked to residential wood burning.  The good news is that there are simple steps one can take to protect our air quality, our community’s health, and avoid costly regulations.  If you heat your home with wood, you can also save money and protect your home by practicing these three steps:

  • Burn the right wood: Burn only dry hardwood seasoned 6 months or more.
  • Use the right stove: Use an EPA certified stove for greatest efficiency.  These EPA certified stoves are generally those manufactured since 1990.  No matter what stove you use, have your stove and chimney maintained by a technician at least annually.
  • Burn the right way: Maintain a hot, bright fire and do not let the fire smolder.  Burning wood safely and efficiently will save you money and protect your home.

To learn more, including wood heating tips and for a daily forecast of our air quality visit Keene Air Quality ( or call the NH Air Quality Information line 1-800-935-SMOG. 

Join your neighbors in protecting our air, our community’s health, and the New Hampshire way of life – Learn Before You Burn!