By CHANSE WATSON
KELLOGG — For the third year in a row, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is offering to replace qualifying old wood stoves in the west Silver Valley.
After being awarded an Environmental Protection Agency airshed grant in 2016, West Silver Valley Airshed Project Coordinator Dan Smith has overseen the replacement of 89 out-of-date wood stoves in the attainment area.
For the past two years, the qualifications for the change-out have remained mostly the same. Candidates must reside in the West Silver Valley Non-Attainment Area (which encompasses the cities of Pinehurst, Smelterville, Kingston, Kellogg and part of Cataldo) and must be currently burning a non-EPA-certified wood stove in their residence.
This year, a new addition to the rules now gives Smith the ability to replace “technically” EPA-certified stoves that are in bad shape.
This requirement change was brought about by Smith, who ran into some unique issues last year while conducting stove inspections for the project.
In several cases, Smith would arrive at the home of the applicant and find that even though the stove was in poor condition, it bore a EPA certification sticker.
“The insides where the air induction tubes, catalytic converters and all the features that made them EPA certified, were trashed,” he said. “The only thing that made them certified was that stupid label.”
Because of the technical certification, these stoves did not qualify for a change-out.
Taking this to heart, Smith worked in conjunction with an EPA official back east to tweak the rules so that something could be done.
“We now have a rule … that not only can they be not EPA approved (no label at all), but they can be EPA approved and manufactured before 1998,” Smith said.
Because of this small change, Smith was able to go back to many of those previously denied applicants and complete the switch.
“Now I have the ability to look at these older stoves and change them out if needed.”
Of the 89 total stoves that have been replaced, 16 were a result of this new rule.
On top of the new stoves, the airshed grant also has funding available (to those who qualify) to address chimney issues.
Smith noticed the chimneys attached to the non-compliant stoves were a mess during most of his inspections.
“The biggest issue we are seeing is that of all the stoves we have installed — not one chimney has been worth a damn,” he said in a previous interview.
“If the stove is the heart of the system, the chimney is the lungs — they don’t work without each other.”
Installing a brand new — more efficient — stove that pumps out more heat than its predecessor presents a fire hazard when combined with an obsolete/damaged chimney.
As of now, the vast majority of qualified applicants who have received a new stove also had some sort of work done to their chimney.
The purpose of this change out is to cut down on the No. 1 air pollutant in the Silver Valley — wood stove smoke.
Smith explained that “because of the high levels of particulate matter in the air, the WSV has been on the borderline of Non-Attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5 for many years.”
It was because of the non-attainment rating that IDEQ was able to get the grant to fund the project. These elevated levels of particulate matter can effect the overall health of area residents — particularly children with chronic health conditions and the elderly.
The new, cleaner burning, wood stoves only release 3.5 grams per hour (gph) of particulate, compared to the older/outdated ones that release around 35 gph.
This most current application period runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 30, 2019, and many of the 2017 replacements were completely paid for through the wood stove program (with others having more than 75 percent of the cost paid for through the program).
Although he bears a resemblance to Santa Clause and may even spend some time around your chimney this holiday season, Smith only has one gift to give — a cleaner burning, hotter wood stove that will save you money.
The application and additional information are available on IDEQ’s website at http://www.deq.idaho.gov/west-silver-valley-air-quality-improvement-projects.
For more information or questions about the application, contact Dan Smith at 208-783-5781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.