Canadian Biomass Magazine

EPA awards over $8.8 million to reduce air pollution from wood heaters

July 3, 2024

Inflation Reduction Act to fund nationwide wood heater testing effort

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the award of an $8,804,000 grant under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and its nationwide network of partner air agencies. This funding will support emissions testing and other activities aimed at reducing air pollution from wood heaters. EPA is committed to addressing air pollution and protecting public health through science-based initiatives and collaboration with local, state, and Tribal partners.

“Addressing air pollution is a top priority for EPA – science-based initiatives and strong collaboration with our local, state, and Tribal partners makes that possible. We know that wood stoves and heaters can be a good option for people, but inefficient ones can lead to bad indoor and outdoor pollution,” said EPA New England regional administrator David W. Cash. “This grant, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, will inform the selection of replacement devices eligible for funding for woodstove change-out programs, helping control air pollution and protecting our communities. Congratulations to NESCAUM – Keep up the good work!”

NESCAUM will conduct emissions testing on wood stoves to gather data that is independent of existing certification tests. The collected data will assist in the development of a ranked appliance performance list based on collected project emissions data. By providing reliable data on wood heater emissions, this project aims to improve air quality in affected communities, making it easier to purchase wood heating devices with the lowest emissions of air pollution and meet national air quality standards.

“Wood is an important resource for home heating in New England, but smoke from wood heaters can have serious health impacts in local communities, including increased risk of premature death,” said NESCAUM executive director Paul Miller. “This grant will provide a stronger basis for the public and states in making decisions on home heating options that are more efficient and cleaner, a win for consumers and public health.”

The data will help EPA determine Clean Air Act emissions limits in a future wood heater standard, which could lower wood heater emissions and improve air quality for areas across the country. Cleaner-burning wood stoves will reduce harmful emissions, benefiting public health and the environment, particularly in vulnerable and rural communities.

During the winter, many New Englanders seek to avoid high heating costs by turning to wood as a fuel. Unfortunately, many wood heaters are inefficient and emit more pollutants into the air than heating with oil, natural gas or electricity.  In 2020, approximately 11 million U.S. homes used woodstoves as a heat source. However, wood smoke can contain harmful gases that can cause health problems such as eye irritation, runny nose, bronchitis, and even worsening chronic heart and lung diseases. These fine particles can be particularly harmful to children, older adults, and people with heart or lung conditions.

Residential wood heating significantly contributes to air pollution, especially in rural areas and disadvantaged communities already overburdened by legacy emissions and other environmental issues. The smoke from wood stoves is a major factor in some rural areas of the country failing to meet federal air quality standards for particulate matter (PM2.5), which poses serious public health risks.


Section 60105(d) of the Inflation Reduction Act provides funding “for testing and other agency activities to address emissions from wood heaters.”

NESCAUM, a longtime leader in addressing wood heater emissions, provided public comment during EPA’s public outreach on the Inflation Reduction Act. The organization submitted a plan to collaborate with state, local and Tribal air agencies in testing emissions from residential wood heating devices. NESCAUM has a history of forming coalitions and partnerships with states, local agencies, and Tribal nations around the country.

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