For nearly 40 years, Don and Jane Bauer have sold wood-burning stove.
They said, wood-burning stoves have been improving.
But not all stoves are as efficient, and some homeowners hold on to their stoves for decades.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency director Gina McCarthy signed new rules limiting pollution from new wood-burning heaters last month.
The U.S. EPA rules, which order more-effective pollution controls, would be phased in over five years, only to new wood-burning heaters and won’t force anyone to get rid of their older models.
The EPA evaluates the rules will minimize fine-particle pollution from wood-burning stoves by almost 70 percent and save an average of one premature death per day. The rules are the first updates to regulations on wood-burning stoves since 1988.
In an email, director Brennan Howell for the advocacy group Ohio Environmental Council called the new rules “a no-brainer”.
About 10 percent of U.S. households burn wood, and the number depending on it as their primary heating source rose by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2012, the latest year for which federal figures were available. Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said that Ohio has not taken a position on the new federal rules.
According to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. EPA data from a 2011 inventory, Ohio ranks sixth in the total amount of soot emissions sent into the atmosphere from residential wood-burning, 15th nationwide in per-capita emissions from residential wood-burning.
The Ohio EPA drafted rules in 2008 to limit emissions from wood-burning stoves, but backed off those rules after a public commotion. The Ohio EPA at the time said it would let local communities regulate wood-fired boilers.
Griesmer said that the Ohio EPA then knew that the federal government was considering regulating wood-burning stoves.
Ohio communities, including Fairfield, Madeira, Springdale and Monroe in southwestern Ohio and Garrettsville in northeastern Ohio, have banned outdoor, wood-fired boilers.
Griesmer said “We thought (manufacturers) would be better regulated federally”.
In addition, soot is formed by pollution from diesel engines and coal-burning power plants. It builds in the air and can be inhaled where the particles can worsen breathing conditions. Breathing soot can also tigger heart attacks? But burning wood is cheaper for some.
John Clarke, who has heated his Near East Side house with a combination of natural gas and an outdoor wood-fired boiler for eight years, says that he has saved thousands of dollars. His family uses 14 to 16 cords of wood each winter.
“I feel that it’s clean enough. But obviously there is smoke that comes out. I’m burning wood, right?” he said.
Mr. Bauer said larger companies that make wood-burning stoves already mostly comply with the new EPA rules. But he worries that smaller manufacturers might go out of business.
He believes the U.S. EPA should focus on larger polluters.
“There’s so many more particles that come from cars and trucks,” he said. “They’re picking on the little guys, really.”