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Health Officials Urge Outdoor Boiler Users Not to "Smoke Out" Neighbors

November 10, 2008

Madison, WI - The high cost of oil and natural gas has led to more outdoor wood-burning boilers popping up across Wisconsin. State health officials are urging people electing to use the devices to be sure to properly install and locate their boilers to avoid smoking out the neighborhood.

Bill Otto with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health urges such consideration.

"We have to think of our downwind neighbors. We would appreciate that when someone's buying one, they would consider where the boiler will be located."

The American Lung Association of Wisconsin recommends outdoor wood-burning boilers be installed at least 500 feet from the nearest neighbor. Otto says it's also important to be sure to burn only seasoned, dry wood.

"We're talking clean, cured, year-old wood. It's not supposed to be green wood, because there's a lot of moisture in that and it tends to be smokier."

He adds that burning trash is also out, because it can release a number of toxic chemicals into the air, and it's illegal in any case.

Frequent exposure to fine particulates like those in smoke is a health concern because they are small enough to reach the deepest portions of the lungs and then enter the bloodstream. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, possible health effects include asthma, bronchitis, and an increased risk of heart attack for people with existing heart conditions. The EPA is expected to designate six Wisconsin counties as having unhealthy levels of particulate pollution.

More information is online at

Eric Mack, Public News Service - WI