Residents of towns in the North and South of the State will be helped to use their heaters more efficiently in a project designed to reduce domestic wood smoke.
The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman, launched the Burn Brighter this Winter project at Hadspen, which, together with Geeveston, will be the focus of the community engagement project.
Mr Wightman said officers from the EPA Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment are collaborating with the Meander Valley and Huon Valley Councils to reduce domestic wood smoke in the community.
“Households in the two focus areas will receive information about effective wood-heater operation and the potential health effects of wood smoke,” he said.
“Environmental officers will monitor air quality, identify smoky chimneys and follow up with education and useful tips.”
The Meander Valley Council Mayor Craig Perkins said a project such as Burn Brighter this Winter delivers multiple benefits.
“These benefits are mostly for improved air quality, but also assisting our community to have more efficient and cost-effective heating.
“Meander Valley Council appreciates the support and involvement of the EPA in this valuable project,” Mr Perkins said.
Huon Valley Mayor Robert Armstrong said the program will help to educate people on how to use their wood heaters to get the most out of their wood this winter.
“We are working with the EPA to reduce smoke emissions in the Huon Valley,” Cr Armstrong said.
Mr Wightman said the message to wood heater operators is to burn brighter.
“Smoke from a poorly operated wood heater can be reduced by as much as 80 per cent by following a few simple steps,” he said.
• Checking heaters comply with relevant Australian Standards
• Only using well-seasoned, dry fire wood
• Burn the fire on high for 20 minutes after adding wood
• Always keep the air vents open enough to keep some kind of flame
• Don’t shut your fire right down when you go to bed
• Never let the fire smoulder
Last year a similar program was trialled in parts of Hobart and Launceston, with more than 1300 letters and information packages sent to households and 10 mobile air quality monitoring surveys conducted by EPA Division staff.
“Last year’s work showed that the vast majority of residents in the trial area who were identified as having a smoky chimney modified their behaviour to improve their emissions,” Mr Wightman said.
“The Burn Brighter this Winter 2013 project is focussed on ways to improve domestic wood heater use in the focus areas.”
Air quality in Tasmania is regulated by the EPA and Local Government. The Director of Public Health issues independent health advice to help protect and promote the health of Tasmanians.
More information about the Burn Brighter this Winter 2013 project and effective wood heater operation is on the EPA website
For information on air quality monitoring and notifications go to: http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/alerts/air