The EPA Division is currently implementing the Domestic Smoke Management Program (DSMP) under the umbrella of the Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy. The long term goal of the Program is to improve the health of the community by reducing wood smoke in areas that have persistent periods of poor air quality.
In Tasmania, particle matter is a major air pollutant associated with impacts on the health of the community. Smoke generated from burning activities such as domestic wood heating often produces elevated concentrations of fine particles in the atmosphere. These particles adversely affect the health of many Tasmanians living in urban and regional population centres.
How wood smoke affects you depends on your health and age, as well as your exposure to smoke. The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services provides more information on the potential health impacts of wood smoke exposure. The Department also provides public health alerts for air quality in communities around Tasmania utilising real time data.
A study published in 2013 by Dr Fay Johnston of the Menzies Research Institute found that smoke pollution increases the death rate in the community. For more information, view this paper: Evaluation of interventions to reduce air pollution from biomass smoke on mortality in Launceston: retrospective analysis of daily mortality 1994-2007.
Research indicates that targeted education programs, backed up by appropriate regulations, are highly effective at changing the practices of wood heater users leads to a reduction of excessive emissions of smoke from poorly operated heaters (Ling 2004).
With this in mind, the first phase of the DSMP was a targeted education and community engagement project called Burn Brighter this Winter. The Burn Brighter this Winter Project was undertaken in East Launceston and West Hobart in the winter of 2012. The project was a collaboration between the EPA and the Launceston and Hobart City Councils.
The second phase of the DSMP was also a targeted education and community engagement project called Burn Brighter this Winter 2013. It was undertaken in partnership with Huon Valley and Meander Valley Councils.
In the winter of 2014, the third phase of the DSMP was undertaken in partnership with the Northern Midlands and Launceston Councils. The focus area for the Burn Brighter this Winter 2014 project was the township of Longford.
Reports on the Burn Bighter this Winter Projects untertaken by the EPA can be found at these links:
The main objectives of the Burn Brighter this Winter projects have been to:
- Improve the effectiveness of local council EHOs in the regulation and management of sources of domestic smoke;
- improve the operation of domestic wood heaters within the community; and
- Increase community awareness of:
- the effect of wood smoke on health
- the importance of correctly storing and using seasoned fire wood; and
- the atmospheric conditions that influence poor dispersion of smoke.