Friday, June 21, 2019

Wood stove roundup: helping to clear wintertime smoke

Volunteers help to unload wood stoves brought in for recycling

It may be hot outside, but that didn't deter folks in Okanogan County from taking advantage of a cashback incentive to recycle old, smoky wood stoves earlier this month. At $250 per stove, limited to two stoves per customer, each person could claim up to $500!

Reducing wintertime air pollution is a priority in the county, where poor ventilation traps wood smoke in mountain valleys, often for days on end.

Our Air Quality Program in Central Washington teamed with Okanogan County, the Methow Valley Clean Air Project and the Okanogan River Airshed Partnership, to sponsor the collection event at the Twisp Transfer Station and the county's Central Landfill, June 5-6.

The results: A total of 74 participants turned in 105 stoves, leading to a payout of $26,250! Translating to a potential reduction of over 2 tons of PM 2.5 emissions, the small particles in smoke that when inhaled lodge in our lungs and can cause respiratory damage.

Participants will receive payment by check in a few weeks, and also got some cool outreach goodies at the events. Additionally, all the stoves turned in will be recycled! Funding was made available through the Woodsmoke Reduction Grant Program to improve air quality in our state's most vulnerable regions.

Stoves of all shapes and sizes
Recent data shows Okanogan County residents are exposed to more smoke, due to wildfires and wood stoves, than people in any other county in the state. While we can't do much about wildfire smoke, it makes sense to reduce other sources of smoke and provide an incentive for cleaner burning alternatives, such as new stoves or switching to gas or electric heat.
Waiting for the crusher and to be recycled

Although this round of buybacks is over, everyone can make a difference. If you own a wood stove, burn only dry, seasoned wood, and consider replacing your older stove with a newer, more efficient model. 

Homeowners can help reduce smoke emissions by composting and chipping instead of burning yard waste (which is illegal in urban growth areas throughout the state).

Please check out our community partner’s pages. They helped by volunteering at this buyback, and are also working with us to sponsor future events and other programs. Use the links below to learn more about their mission and ways you can help keep the air clean!

Also, local clean air agencies may sponsor similar events.

Kimi Matsushima checks in a stove to be recycled - from the trunk of  a car!

By Kimi Matsushima, Air Quality Specialist

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