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EPA Seeks Small Business Input on Revising Standards for New Residential Wood Heaters

Release Date: 05/04/2010
Contact Information: Dave Ryan (News Media Only) Ryan.dave@epa.gov 202-564-7827 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses to nominate representatives to participate in a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel as the agency develops fine particle emission limits for new residential wood heaters and other burning devices, such as wood stoves and hydronic heaters.

More than 10 million wood stoves are used in the United States. They're everywhere, but more prevalent in colder climates. Many are used as supplemental heat. Hydronic heaters, also known as outdoor wood heaters, number about 500 thousand in the United States. Most are sold for use in rural, cold climate areas where wood is readily available; however, the units can be found throughout America. Use of these heaters has increased in recent years as home heating oil prices have risen.

A major health threat from smoke comes from fine particles (also called particle pollution, particulate matter, or PM). These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis -- In addition, fine particle exposure can lead to a variety of health effects.

Nominations must be received by May 14, 2010. In the past, EPA selected panel members in consultation with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), but did not invite small businesses to nominate representatives. EPA and SBA, however, are now taking the additional step of seeking nominations directly from small businesses. EPA is required to set up the panel by the Regulatory Flexibility Act if a rule may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA issued standards for new residential wood heaters, including wood stoves, in 1988. The law requires that EPA periodically review these standards. EPA completed a draft review in 2009, noting that improvements in technology allow emissions to be better controlled than the existing standards require. In light of this review, EPA anticipates proposing revisions to the standards in 2011. The revisions could include improved regulation of wood heaters, along with new regulation of other residential devices that use solid biomass fuels.

More information about participating in the panel: http://www.epa.gov/sbrefa/woodheaters.htm