Wood smoke project conducts workshops for Armidale residents

Published 09 July 2009

chimneyAs part of a nationally funded research project at the University of New England aimed at reducing wood smoke pollution in Armidale, four half-hour workshops for Armidale residents will be held next week.

“The primary aim of these workshops is to provide advice to residents about how to operate their wood heaters to maximise efficiency and reduce wood smoke emissions,” said UNE’s Associate Professor Don Hine, one of the chief investigators on the project, “The sessions will demonstrate correct wood heater operation, and show how relatively minor changes in operation procedures can result in large differences in the amount of smoke emitted from a heater.”

The UNE researchers are collaborating on the three-year project with Armidale Dumaresq Council, SmartBurn Australia, the Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA), and the Firewood Association of Australia. Mr John Grills, a member of AHHA, will be hosting the workshops, which will be on Monday the 13th and Tuesday the 14th of July.

“Our research team has been conducting smoke patrols for the past three weeks,” Dr Hine said, “and it is becoming quite evident that the majority of wood heater users in Armidale are doing a great job, and emitting very little wood smoke into the air. However, there are still substantial numbers of households that are releasing considerable amounts of smoke into air, representing a real health risk to themselves and also the community.”

With the project now in its second year, the researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of two types of strategies – educational and technological – for reducing wood smoke pollution in Armidale.

Dr Hine emphasised that the study was “not about banning wood heaters”. “We want to see if we can create a win-win situation,” he said, “where those who choose to use wood heaters can continue to do so, while at the same time reducing overall wood smoke levels in the community to an acceptable level.”

Everyone is welcome to attend one or other of the four workshops, which will be at Barbeques Galore (157 Rusden Street, Armidale) on Monday and Tuesday. They will run from 12 noon to 12.30 pm and from 1 pm to 1.30 pm on both days.

For more information, contact Dr Navjot Bhullar at UNE on (02) 6773 2546, or e-mail her at: navjot.bhullar@une.edu.au.