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Retiring Wood Stoves Brings Washington's Air Quality Back In Line

Air pollution caused by wood stoves in Washington is in line with federal clean air requirements for the first time in seven years.

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency set more stringent standards for air pollution. For most of Washington state, that wasn’t a problem. But the air in Pierce County was too polluted from wood stove smoke. The fine particulate from that smoke has been linked to asthma, heart attacks and high blood pressure.

Camille St. Onge, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology, said programs that buy back people’s old wood stoves have been helping.

“We’ve been removing their old, uncertified stoves and replacing it with either ductless heat pumps or pellet stoves,” St. Onge said.

Statewide, 3,575 wood stoves have been changed out so far.

St. Onge says with that effort, this year the Tacoma area once again meets federal standards, bringing the entire state back into compliance.

Around the state, air pollution in 14 communities is close to slipping below federal requirements. St. Onge says the biggest problems are wood-burning stoves and diesel particulate matter from cars, trucks, and trains.

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<p>Washington's rate of compliance with EPA clean air standards</p>

Source: Washington Department of Ecology


Washington's rate of compliance with EPA clean air standards

Source: Washington Department of Ecology

Courtney Flatt