By ROBERT S. MERRILL
A wood stove change-out program initiated three years ago by Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality has reduced by over 10 tons per year the amount of particulate matter emitted into the air in Franklin County.
This reduction goes a long way to lowering the PM2.5 pollution in the local airshed and helps clear the air, according to Melissa Gibbs, airshed coordinator for the DEQ in Pocatello.
Despite this reduction in particulate matter, air pollution levels in Franklin County have been in the moderate-to-bad category several times this winter due to strong temperature inversions that have trapped stagnant air at the surface.
Some relief came over the weekend due to a weak storm that moved through the area. But it is a sure bet there will be more bad-air days during the next 60 days.
“This winter season so far, we have changed out a total of 57 stoves in Franklin County. If you combine this effort with the past two change-out periods, we have replaced a total of 209 stoves in the community,” said Gibbs.
“Using a rough estimate, replacement of 20 non-certified stoves with EPA-certified stoves can prevent the direct emissions of one ton of particulate matter each year.
By changing out 209 wood stoves in the county, we have reduced directly emitted particulate matter by a little over 10 tons per year.”
The first DEQ burn ban this year because of dirty air was implemented on Dec. 12 and was lifted on Dec. 20.
Wood-burning ordinances were enacted by the county and several municipalities two years ago. When pollution levels reach a point of being a problem for those with health issues, a ban on wood burning is initiated. The wood stove burn ban applies to all areas of the county.
The exception is if the wood stove is the only source of heat or an alternate heat source creates a financial hardship. Newer EPA-approved wood stoves are also exempt from the rule.
There are six categories of air quality. During this recent period Franklin County reached the fourth stage, where air quality is listed as unhealthy.
This story is sponsored by Willow Valley Urgent Care Clinic.
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