Environmental Health and Air Quality
Wood heaters are a great way to heat your home, however smoke from wood heaters can also be a major source of pollution.
Wood smoke can be a nuisance not only around your home but also in your neighbourhood. It is also a health hazard because wood smoke can contain fine particles and toxic compounds that can cause breathing difficulties and respiratory problems, especially for people suffering existing respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, and for very young children and frail older people.
Some simple steps to reduce wood smoke pollution are:
- Don’t let your heater smoulder overnight: keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
- Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
- Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
- Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood as these can produce poisonous gases.
- When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
- Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don’t cram the firebox full.
- Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
- Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
- Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
- If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).
For more information visit the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) website or NSW Health's Wood burning heaters and your health page.
Installation of new wood heaters
Under section 68 of the NSW Local Government Act 1993, you must seek Council approval prior to the installation of an new wood heater. For more information, please visit our Applications page or download the Development Activity Application Form on our Application Forms page here.
Burning of vegetation and domestic waste in the open or unauthorised incinerator is generally prohibited at all times in Uralla Shire and other NSW council areas listed in Schedule 8 of the Clean Air Regulation. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) or local council may issue an open burning approval in some circumstances.
Contact Council or the EPA to find out what and when you can burn in your area and if you need open burning approval under the Clean Air Regulation.
Heavy smoke from bushfires can travel vast distances and affect the air quality a great distance from the fire, and depending on weather conditions can linger for long periods of time.
Bushfire smoke can impact people's health and it is important to reduce exposure:
- Seek medical advice if you are experiencing any adverse reactions to dust or smoke, such as shortness of breath, prolonged coughing or wheezing.
- Avoid vigorous outdoor activities when air quality is poor.
- Spend more time indoors and use air conditioners in recirculate mode.
- Avoid indoor sources of air pollution, such as cigarettes, candles, and incense.
Visit the NSW Health website for more information on how to protect your health from bushfire smoke.
For more information on personal health and safety during a bushfire, please visit our Disaster Planning page here.