Salt Lake City Council to look at wood burning solutions as bad air days continue

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SALT LAKE CITY – Bad air quality is expected to continue in the Salt Lake Valley for the next several days, and experts say wood burning is a major culprit when it comes to air pollution.

Officials said one wood burning stove emits as much pollution as 3,000 gas furnaces combined, and that statistic is one reason EPA officials are urging people to reduce the use of wood burning stoves in their homes.

Elesha Morris of Salt Lake City said the poor air quality has had an impact on her life.

“I think the air is horrible,” she said. “I actually have an upper respiratory infection, and my doctor the other day told me that's why, it's because of the poor air quality in Salt Lake.”

What's in the air is particulate matter -- it's a complex mixture of fine dust and soot particles. PM 2.5 is the kind of pollution we usually see this time of year, and according to a recent study by the University of Utah a big contributor is wood burning stoves. That is one reason the Salt Lake City Council is considering action. City Council Member Erin Mendenhall spoke about the issue.

“There's a possibility of a wood burning ban in Salt Lake City,” she said. “I think it's a little bit premature for that. For two reasons: We don't have education, public education out there yet, to tell people why wood burning is so impactful to both our personal health and our community’s health and the air shed, and we desperately need that. Secondly, we have provided no mechanism for households whose sole source of heat comes from wood burning to transition to natural gas.”

Mendenhall said she would first support an education campaign designed to make people more aware of the impact wood burning has on the environment. Officials said they plan to take up the issue at their next city council meeting.

Visit the Department of Environmental Quality for more information about air quality throughout the state.


  • Michael Tuft

    The air quality is not all attributed from wood burning stove but we don’t worry about those sources of pollution because its easier to go after the public not the corporations that are major contributors. I have a wood burning stove an EPA approved stove. I’ve written the Dept. of Environmental Qualities president as to why I’m NOT allowed to burn an EPA approved stove and got no answers but its easy enough to tell me I CANT BURN! Whats the point of spending the money on the right stove to enjoy the heat! I help out the forest service by cutting the dead trees out which in turn helps the forest. I dont hear you passing laws to tell the refineries and Kennecott to cut back on production! It seems a little one sided blaming wood burning stoves for a bigger problem!

    • Pete

      The study says that the EPA approved stoves are nearly as bad as non approved. While it’s unfortunate, it does seem that wood burning stoves are really bad for the air.

      • Goto Zero

        So you believe everything you read in some lopsided, generalised and exaggerated corporate/ investor sponsored study? If you are still at school, you probably have to. What a shame.

  • Goto Zero

    Is that education or marketing? In light of all the anti competitor hypothesis weighted – comparative rehashes of the Harvard Six Cities study, the relationships made with natural gas giants and prominent lobbyist prodders (like an NGO acronym or Not for Profit label means anything much), – social marketing agents and infiltrators of the EPA energy policy plan. That is not educating your public about smoke and how to reduce it sensibly. That’s propaganda to sell more natural gas, promoted – even enforced, by your local government.

  • Mike Duts

    As soon as a storm clears out the smog, the very 1st place you see the smog starting to develop is at the oil refineries, and it fills up the salt lake valley in just a few days, and they intend to expand the facilities at the refineries for more production. I remember when Geneva was operating in Orem, you could see the yellow pollution from the Refineries, and the Red Pollution from Geneva, that would fill up our valley in a day or two.. Most people that I know who burn wood stoves, and fireplaces, respect the Yellow and Red Burn days, So a little more education would be great, so that the vast majority of people who use this type of heat source will be more aware,

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