They’re becoming more popular in areas of rural Wisconsin, but outdoor wood burning boilers can pose health risks, particularly if they’re not installed properly or if inadequately dried wood is use. “There’s already air pollution happening if you can see and smell smoke,” from an outdoor boiler, said Diana Hammer Tscheschlok with UW Extension in Fond du Lac County. “That means that fine particles are being inhaled into you lungs.” Breathing fine particles can cause a variety of serious health problems, particularly for older adults and people with heart or lung diseases. “Because they burn over long periods of time with reduced draft, they can produce ten times the amount of smoke than other wood burning heat sources.”
For homeowners who may be considering the purchase of one of the outdoor units, Hammer Tscheschlok recommends a visit to Burn Wise site from the U.S. EPA, which lists the most efficient, cleanest burning outdoor wood fired boilers. “It’s really important to read the manufacturer’s instructions and then really pay attention to the fuel moisture and BTU content. Fond du Lac County health officials have identified wood burning as the largest single source of fine particulates in the county. “That’s really a pretty significant way that our air is impacted, especially in the winter,” said Hammer Tscheschlock.