Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Sample media releases

The following media releases can be used as is or taliored for individual council programs.

Ten steps to reduce winter air pollution

[insert council area] residents are being asked to help improve winter air quality by checking they are using wood heaters correctly.

"As temperatures drop and winter sets in, the incorrect use of wood fire heaters can seriously affect our air quality," said Cr. [ insert name], Mayor of [insert name] Council.

"On colder weekends, wood smoke particles from inefficient heaters float in the air and can be seen as a smoke haze that sometimes sits over built up areas. Not only is this sort of pollution unattractive, it can also be bad for our health".

"Wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties, especially for people suffering existing respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, and for very young children and frail older people. There is also evidence that smoke pollution can cause cardiac problems".

"But we can all help reduce the amount of wood smoke pollution this winter by using aged dry wood and running our heaters properly."

Some simple steps to reduce wood smoke pollution are:

  1. Don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  2. Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
  3. Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
  4. Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These are sure to pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
  5. When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
  6. Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don't cram the firebox full.
  7. Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
  8. Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  9. Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
  10. If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).

"It's the responsibility of all wood heater owners to follow these easy steps and minimise the harmful effects of smoke pollution on their neighbours and the environment," said Cr [insert name].

Also available for download as a Word file: tenstepswood.doc (27 kb)

[insert council area] residents encouraged to check chimney

Mayor of [insert council area], Cr. [insert name], today asked residents with wood heaters to check their chimneys for excessive smoke.

Cr [insert name] said smoky chimneys could be a real problem in [insert area] during the winter months, when wood smoke haze is trapped over built up areas. S/he said the council was running a Wood Smoke Reduction Program to reduce wood smoke pollution and help clear the air.

"Unfortunately wood smoke pollution can harm the environment and your health and can be upsetting for neighbours," Cr. [insert name] said.

"We're encouraging all residents with wood heaters to go outside and check their chimneys. Ideally, chimneys should not vent any smoke, just a heat haze. Older models may vent a thin wispy smoke.

"However if your chimney has obvious smoke this means it's not operating as efficiently as it could be, regardless of its age."

Cr. [insert name] said some simple steps to reduce wood smoke are:

  • Don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  • Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
  • Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
  • Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These are sure to pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
  • When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
  • Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don't cram the firebox full.
  • Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
  • Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  • Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
  • If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).

Media contact: [insert name and phone number here]

For information on how to use your wood heater better, contact [insert name] Council on [insert phone number] or visit the EPA website at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/woodsmoke.

Media contact: [insert name and phone number here]

Also available for download as a Word file: chimneywood.doc (22 kb)

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Page last updated: 20 June 2013