Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

New state regulations clear the air on wood smoke

Media release: 1 November 2016

The NSW Government has introduced new regulations on wood heaters sold in NSW to reduce wood smoke and improve air quality across the state.

The new regulations set tighter limits on emissions and fuel efficiency, bringing NSW wood heaters in line with Australian and New Zealand standards.

From 1 November 2016 all wood heaters sold in NSW will be required to meet a 55 per cent fuel efficiency standard and produce no more than 2.5 grams of particle pollution per kilogram of wood burnt. Then from 1 November 2019, all wood heaters sold in NSW will be required to meet a 60 per cent efficiency standard and a particle emission limit of no more than 1.5 grams per kilogram of wood; or 0.8 grams per kilogram for heaters with catalytic combustors.

NSW Environment Protection Authority Chief Environmental Regulator, Mark Gifford, said wood smoke makes up approximately 47% of all man-made air particles in the Sydney region, and 43% in Western Sydney. Similar patterns occur in regional NSW.

“Many people find the smell of an open fire comforting, but the truth is that smoke from a wood fire is harmful to our health. Many noxious gasses are released including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides that can be particularly harmful for the elderly, young children and those with pre-existing conditions like asthma.”

“These regulations will improve local air quality and the fuel efficiency of wood heaters by reducing the amount of wood smoke in the air,” Mr Gifford said.

The majority of wood heaters sold in NSW already comply with the national standards but retailers will have until November 2019 to ensure all their stock meet the tougher standards.

Top 5 tips for reducing wood smoke

  1. Before purchasing your next wood heater check that it complies with the national standards 
  2. Don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a bright flame.
  3. Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke. Wet wood is a waste of money and fuel.
  4. Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
  5. Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These are sure to pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases. It also causes build-up in the chimney.


Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 02 November 2016