"Wood heater smoke contains fine particles and toxic chemicals including cancer causing compounds.
Any material floating about in the air can be breathed into our bodies. While some of the particles are exhaled, a fraction is
retained and these can have adverse impacts on our health.
Most at risk are the young, the elderly or those people who sufferer from bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and other lung or heart
There is also evidence that fine particle matter can lead to premature deaths.
Especially at risk are elderly people who suffer from chronic respiratory problems.
Everybody has a responsibility to help keep our air clean. If you can see or smell smoke then you are causing a problem for
It has been easy for the forestry industries to blame wood heaters in the past for smoking communities out, even though forestry put
32 times as many particulates into our Tasmanian air shed.
The number of wood heaters installed has diminished significantly as a result of, for example, the wood heater buy-back program,
but smoke levels are still unacceptable across some locations in Tasmania during the colder months of the year.
Can you imagine how terrible it must be to live next to a smoky flue?
It is important for people to be warm and for their houses to be mould free - especially asthmatics.
Wood heaters, if used properly and considerately, play their part in helping to achieve this when other clean forms of heating are
not possible for whatever reason.
In Tasmania we need home heating for about 6 months of the year. We certainly do not need wood heater smoke for 6 months of
The current emissions standard for a wood heater is 4gms of particulates for every 1Kg of dry wood burnt.
Certified wood heaters are tested under laboratory conditions which do not equate to real-life conditions.
Read below how air quality inside a Tasmanian home was seriously compromised by the operation of a wood heater.
Go here to read COAG's Consultation Regulation Impact Statement.
Go here to read the cleanairtas submission.
Go here to read all the submissions
Councils manage smoke from wood heaters. Go here to see how councils and the EPA differ on who is meant to be
responsible for administering the Environment Act and Regulations in Tasmania.
Domestic Pellet Heating in Tasmania 7th March 2012. Go here to read the facts.
Island Bio-Energy say bulk deliveries of pellets will be available next season once reserves have been built up.
Annual average fuel consumption is about a tonne (66Kg bags) which compares to about four or five tonnes of firewood to heat a
typical Tasmanian home - Sunday Tasmanian - Winter heating feature May 12, 2013.
Go here to read the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities pages on wood heaters
Go here to watch further video presentations on wood heater smoke by:
Dr Fay Johnston, GP and Tasmanian Senior Researcher Menzies Research Institute,
Dr John Innis, Senior Environmental Officer, Air, EPA Tasmania,
Professor John Todd, Academic and Consultant, Tasmania.
If you must burn go here to find a fighlighter that does not stink and lights easily.
Go here to read what the Australian Home Heating industry had to say on June 1, 2005
'Wood heater' also known as a 'wood hater' or 'wood eater'
Wood heater, fire place, back yard burn, incinerator and fire pit smoke is like any other smoke...
it is toxic, harmful, and can be deadly.
There is no such thing as a certified wood heater installer in Tasmania and other approved certification bodies do not want to be involved.
There is no current inventory to show the location or number of wood heaters installed in Tasmania.
Question to EPA regarding 2016 Australian Census and wood heater numbers
Submissions for the 2021 Australian Census open in October/November 2017
Dr. Jim Markos, Tasmanian medical lung specialist (Australian Lung Foundation)
Dr. Sverre Vedal of the University of Washington
Dr. Michael Aizen, Tasmanian, from the Australian Medial Association.
When you can't breathe, nothing else matters.
Click on the picture to watch the video.
Doctors speak up against wood heater smoke
Click on the above picture to read Sam Harris's
The Fireplace Delusion.
Wood heaters and fire places.
Back yard burns, incinerators, fire pits
Go here to watch EPA YouTube wood heater wood smoke videos
"What happens in your chimney doesn't stay in your chinmey" - Dr. Brian Moench, President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
Menzies Research Institute Tasmania / UTAS - 2014 projects (.pdf file here)
Fire Box Project - Smart Burn devices being tested in Perth Tasmania (.pdf file here)
Perth residents part of research project.
Read about Perth here. We don't gibbett people in Tasmania anymore, we hasten their death with smoke!
EPA real-time air quality results can be read for Perth here.
Read the results of the Perth smartburn research project here and here.
There was a previous SmartBurn study done in Armidale, NSW - see below:
The Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Distributed Atmospheric Emissions) Regulations 2007 and now 2017, also known as the DAE Regulations, are used to regulate wood heaters and backyard burning in Tasmania. You can access the DAE Regulations HERE.
You will notice our Regulations lapsed in early 2019 so at present we do not have any 'domestic' Smoke Regulations.
You can read about the Compliance Policy HERE
The EPA's position on the sale/disposal of old, non-compliant, 2nd wood heaters can be found HERE.
Check your wood heater has a compliance plate attached stating it conforms to the Australian Standard for pollution emissions (AS/NZS 4013:2014) and efficiency (AS/NZS 4012:2014).
Shirley Brandie - A victim of wood smoke pollution. Read her story here
June 27, 2014 Wood Fire Heaters: The Hidden Killer - Sydney Morning Herald
Cleaning a chimney the Russian way - click on the photo
A woodsmoke health message
Here is a short Youtube video from Tasmania that applies all around the world.
A case study of how air quality readings can rise to dangerous levels inside a house when a wood heater is lit:
A well known approved brand (compliance test plate attached) 250 square meter rated, free-standing wood heater (1.6gm/h emissions, 61% efficiency) was installed and smoke smell was reported inside the house.
The installer checked the flue and the retailer checked the heater. Despite this, the smoke smell inside the house continued.
It was agreed the owner would run a laser particle counter in the vacinity (3 to 4 feet) of the heater for sometime prior to them both coming back together. The laser results were compared in their presence after the heater was lit.
No smoke spilled from the wood heater on lighting.
A few minutes after firing, the smoke smell was imediately obvious. For brevity just the 'lighting stage' of the particle counts is listed below...
The particle counts did not drop back to what they were before the heater was lit until after the heater ran out of fuel.
Needless to say the wood heater, two story flue kit and installation costs were fully refunded by the heater manufacturer to the owner when the heater was removed by the installer and returned to the retailer.
Date Time 0.5micron 2.5micron
07/02/14 17:05, 874, 82
07/02/14 17:06, 892, 59
07/02/14 17:07, 865, 74
07/02/14 17:08, 883, 75
07/02/14 17:09, 943, 90
07/02/14 17:10, 933, 100
07/02/14 17:11, 976, 101 -----Wood heater was lit.
07/02/14 17:12, 966, 101
07/02/14 17:13, 979, 98
07/02/14 17:14, 989, 107
07/02/14 17:15, 1030, 125
07/02/14 17:16, 4843, 129
07/02/14 17:17, 14572, 178
07/02/14 17:17, 15417, 203
07/02/14 17:18, 28974, 310
07/02/14 17:19, 41396, 419
07/02/14 17:20, 50964, 644
07/02/14 17:21, 50594, 633
07/02/14 17:22, 55492, 761
07/02/14 17:23, 49740, 537
07/02/14 17:24, 47197, 452
07/02/14 17:25, 47637, 467
07/02/14 17:26, 48193, 474
07/02/14 17:27, 48643, 513
07/02/14 17:28, 51608, 582
07/02/14 17:29, 49823, 565
07/02/14 17:30, 48430, 686
07/02/14 17:31, 49885, 714
Cleanairtas has consistently argued that our current wood heater approval standards must state that zero emissions are to occur in the vacinity of a wood heater during certification testing.
This dynamic test should also be mandatory after any wood heater is installed in the premises.
Car makers wouldn't be allowed to inject car fumes directly into the vehicle cabin would they?
Harmful levels of wood heater smoke in a Launceston suburb.
Go here to read EPA BLANkET Technical Report #28
The University of New England project provided the first large-scale field test of SmartBurn
As a result of that study, Prof Don Hine recommended that Council stop
subsidizing smartburns because they did not make much difference.
Go HERE to read the Tasmanain EPA's pamphlet for Regulations on Wood Heater Emissions
No, it is not the Regulations pamphlet anymore, just it's cover.
Go HERE to read the Tasmanian EPA's pamphlet for Regulations on Backyard Burning
The Regulations do not prohibit burning on any land size above 2000 square meters!
2000 sq meters = just half an acre or 0.2 hectare
PM2.5 can travel 1000Km and stay airbourne for weeks!
Air pollution from local heating
Wood heaters are not meant to be sold if they do not meet current certification standards.
Here in Tasmania it is common practice to see 2nd hand heaters being advertised for sale that do not comply with current standards.
And again HERE. Some are about 20 years old. Some have even been welded up/altered by the owners.
These non-complying wood heaters need removing from 'the system'.
It would be easy for the EPA to hit the 'report' link on the advertised site to have this practice stopped.
No regards for current AS/NZS Wood Heater Efficiency or Emission Standards....
Rob Halton July 29, 2019 at 2:17 pm
"Clive of cause I am still using my 28 year old freestanding Saxon Blackwood re installed with a new flue kit in our North Hobart residence during 2002!
There is absolutely no reason to remove it and I would be proud to suggest it will probably see at least half a century’s faithful service, it has now become a question of me out living the useful life of my woodheater. The woodheater should outlast me!
With proper seasonal flue cleaning and using mainly very dry silver peppermint firewood properly stacked and aerated on the home front sourced from wind felled trees it makes no sense to change my mode of domestic heating.
LONG LIVE SUSTAINABLE DOMESTIC RESIDENTIAL WOOD HEATING for those prepared to maintain the upkeep in a responsible manner!"
8th August 2019 - Wood heater emissions reduction comes into effect
A limit of 1.5 grams per kilogram dry wood burnt will apply to all new wood heaters.
A limit of 2.5 grams per kilogram came into effect on 8 August 2015
Prior to that it was 4g/Kg
Our findings highlight the potential for important public health gains from interventions to reduce ambient pollution from biomass smoke.
Decreased air pollution from ambient biomass smoke was associated with reduced annual mortality in males and with reduced cardiovascular and respiratory mortality during winter months.
Tasmanians are being urged to use wood heaters responsibly to cut down on smoke which can worsen health conditions including asthma and heart disease.
Public Health director Mark Veitch said smoke reduced air quality and affected some people's health.
"The smaller particles in wood smoke can be breathed deeply into our lungs and even enter the bloodstream," Dr Veitch said.
Top Tips to Burn Brighter This Winter
A video by Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Tas.
A good video but is let down when it says,
“Healthy people tend to recover quickly from a smoky neighbourhood”
This is not absolutely true when research shows wood smoke entering our lungs crosses over into our blood stream and carries carcinogenic toxins to other organs, which can suffer in time .
Even healthy people are at risk from breathing wood smoke, not just susceptible groups.
Let us make this clear in 2020
New UTAS study reveals the health damages of wood heater smoke
Led by Menzies Institute PhD student Nicolas Borchers-Arriagada, and supervised by Associate Professor Fay Johnston, this is the first study to estimate the health impacts and associated health costs caused by biomass smoke in Tasmania. The study estimated that in Tasmania the average yearly health costs were $293 million for wood heater smoke. This translates into health costs equivalent to $4,232 per wood heater each year across the state.
Distribution of wood heaters and open fires in Tasmania
Tasmania’s population exposure to known airborne pollutants is mainly from
particulate matter as a result of wood burning.
Elevated wood smoke-derived particulates are experienced in Tasmania, particularly during the autumn and winter seasons, with the main sources: planned burns,
associated with either land management or hazard reduction; and the burning
of wood for home heating, from either wood heaters or open fires.