Air Quality & Woodsmoke

What is Air Pollution?

'Air pollution' means the emission into the air of any air impurity. ‘Air impurity’ includes smoke, dust (including fly ash), cinders, solid particles of any kind, gases, fumes, mists, odours and radioactive substances.
 
Air pollution can be associated with creating nuisances and acute health effects and may also cause long-term health problems. Apart from the impact on human health, some pollutants can also cause damage to vegetation and the built environment.
 
Air pollution matters are generally handled under the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (the Act), and associated Regulations.
 

Wood Smoke

Pollution from wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties, 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. These are sure to pollute the air and 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 5 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 information on how to use your wood heater better, visit the EPA website.
 

Installing a new wood heater?

You are required to obtain an approval under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993.
 
Please contact Council’s Planning & Environmental Services Division on 6226 1477 for further information prior to installation or view our Frequently Asked Questions section of our website.
 

Registering a Complaint

In most cases, concerns about air pollution should be referred to the source or person causing the problem. The Community Justice Centre can provide advice on how to approach and talk to your neighbour. If approaching the person causing the problem has not been successful please contact Council to make a complaint.
 
Air pollution at times is difficult to measure and observe as it usually depends on individual sensitivities and can vary significantly with weather conditions.
 
If making a complaint to Council about air pollution please include the following information:
  • Time, date and duration of odour;
  • Weather conditions and wind direction;
  • Details in relation to the nature of the odour;
  • Details where the odour is likely to be coming from; and
  • Your contact details.
Air pollution enquiries of complaints can be directed to Council’s Environmental Health Officer’s on (02) 6226 1477 or e-mail council@yass.nsw.gov.au