What is an Outdoor Wood Boiler?

Outdoor Wood Boiler

An outdoor wood boiler is a wood-fired water heater that is located outside. The fires in the large fire boxes heat water that is circulated through underground pipes into a building or home. The energy may be used to heat homes, domestic hot water, greenhouses, swimming pools, and more. The units produce dense smoke because they have short stacks that disperse smoke poorly. Since, these units are intended for use year around, they are constantly emitting smoke.

Negative Health Effects from Wood Smoke

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles (also called particulate matter or PM). These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis.

Short-term exposures to fine particles can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Long-term exposures can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, has been associated with reduced lung function and lung cancer, and in some cases, resulted in premature death for those with chronic illnesses.

What do I need to know?

Recently, there has been an increasing trend in the installation of outdoor wood boiler units in residential areas, likely due to the rising cost of heating fuel. The smoke emitted from these units has created a number of complaints from surrounding residents who feel this smoke emitted from outdoor wood boilers is a nuisance. In fact, this problem has become large enough that a compliance advisory warning has been issued by the State of New Jersey.

Residents should be informed that they will be in violation of the Air Pollution Control Regulations if they are observed emitting smoke for more than 3 minutes. Penalties associated with the new regulations start at $300 for a first offense, but could quickly add up, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines.

The Division of Health is responsible for investigating environmental and public health regulations within our County. We are providing this advisory to alert you of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's position on these units. County residents should seek a local permit to install an outdoor wood boiler. Please contact the Division of Health for further information.

You can also visit the following websites for more information:

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/enforcement/advisories/2008-05.pdf arrow icon


See also: "Burn Wise" with Help from the US Environmental Protection Agency