Wood Smoke Stories

Pellet stoves pollute too

I would like to share my own personal experience breathing the emissions from a nearby pellet stove about a decade ago. Pellet stove emissions are NOT CLEAN. Pellet stoves do not belong in densely populated URBAN areas!

I was forced to sell my home of twenty years in densely populated Bellevue Borough, PA, in order to escape from the smoke of wood burning neighbors. In searching for another place to live I almost bought a small affordable-to-me house in the economically depressed City of Dunkirk, NY. I was interested in moving to Dunkirk because I read in the local newspaper that the city fire chief was serious about enforcing a ban on open burning there, which I was trying to escape.

I had a contract to purchase the house and went for the final walk-through inspection, accompanied by the Dunkirk city code inspector to see if the side yard was large enough for me to create an off-street parking place for my car, instead of having to park on the street in winter snow season. Moving on-street vehicles daily is mandatory to allow for essential snow-plowing there.

Yes, the yard was big enough. But where I would have been parking and and needing to shovel all winter, even if not daily, happened to be downwind of the next door neighbor’s stove pipe.

I did not realize that fact. But it was a brisk early fall day, out there with the code inspector. I was perplexed when I began to feel sick in the same way that I typically felt in Pennsylvania when my neighbors were burning wood. But, strangely, there was no odor of wood smoke at all. I mentioned the symptoms I was having, with my throat getting sore, ears plugging and sinus/nose irritation beginning while standing out in that yard. The officer told me that he had recently done the installation inspection for the next door neighbor’s new pellet stove. And he pointed out the big shiny stainless steel pipe that was running up the side of their house.

I had to break that contract to buy the house beside Lake Erie due to the illness I felt from that neighbor’s pellet stove. I had to pay off the real estate attorney some $1800 to avoid being sued by him, as he threatened to do. I didn’t have enough money and my dear old dad, who was also there on the inspection day, paid the attorney off for me.

And now the stove and wood burning industry lobbyists in Washington are proposing that we get rid of our clean burning gas furnaces in URBAN neighborhoods and replace them with wood pellet stoves!

The EPA should not fund more air pollution in our neighborhoods by continuing to subsidize log or pellet burning appliances or fuel. Polluting low income neighborhoods with toxic emissions from wood combustion of any kind is NOT environmental justice. Subsidies should only go to new clean home heat systems that do not spew sickening contaminants directly into our neighborhoods.

We who are the victims of wood smoke must speak out against it.