Environment Committee


Bill No.:




Vote Date:


Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:


File No.:


Environment Committee


The topic of outdoor wood-burning furnaces (owfs) has come up repeatedly before the committee during the past several sessions. Specifically, the previous bills have been a response from public complaints about the smoke the furnaces produce which can have detrimental effects on public health and property. Many state they cannot use their yards because of the smoke and have to keep their windows closed as well as air conditioners off. Conversely, operators of the owfs state only a small number of users are responsible for the problems, stating this is due to either improper installation or misuse. This misuse includes burning chemically treated wood and other materials which should not be used. Operators also contend many houses in rural areas use the furnaces exclusively to produce heat as well as hot water all year and would be uninhabitable without the units. This bill attempts to create a compromise between the operators and the victims by creating in the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) a requirement that only clean wood be used in the owfs. It also only permits future installation of units which meet the Phase 2 Standards as set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and grandfathers in already installed owfs. Additionally, the bill establishes a mechanism where the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Department of Agriculture (DoAg) will take an inventory of how many owfs are located in the state.


The new language makes a few minor changes to the raised bill. In Section 1, subsection 2, lines 45-46 after the words “in” and “subdivision”, the phrase “subparagraphs (A) and (B) of” is inserted. Additionally, in lines 65-66, the Commissioner of Agriculture is included along with the Commissioner of DEEP as responsible for taking the inventory of owfs.


Commissioner Daniel C. Esty and Deputy Commissioner Macky McCleary, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection:

Commissioner Esty, Deputy Commissioner McCleary and DEEP testified in support of the bill. They note this legislation will help to minimize air quality impacts on public health due to the requirement for cleaner burning owfs. Commissioner Esty states neighboring states such as Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Vermont only allow owfs which meet the EPA Phase 2 requirement and these units are 90% cleaner than pre-2008 models. DEEP does request some amendments to the bill, such as in lines 46-49 of the original raised bill, they ask the EPA's Hydronic Heater Program be included. Furthermore, the department asks the Department of Public Health (DPH) be removed in line 50 and replaced with a “duly authorized municipal official” and they requested that section (f) to be struck. Commissioner Esty requests these revisions be made and the bill be passed, noting it will “move Connecticut closer to the standard set by surrounding states.”

Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky, Department of Agriculture:

Commissioner Reviczky and DoAg testified in support of the bill, thanking Commissioner Esty and DEEP for working towards a resolution. He notes that owfs have been used in the state since it was settled and are currently used in a wide range of agricultural activities. The commissioner states both departments have reached an agreement which will acquire “data

that will be needed for the application of limited resources in an intelligent fashion towards resolving reported health and safety concerns.” Additionally, Commissioner Reviczky states both departments were able to agree that only “clean wood” would be used in the furnaces as a fuel source. The department also acknowledges an “inventory” of owfs in the state must be performed in order to determine the type of owf used at a particular property as well as other relevant data such as distance from property lines. Commissioner Reviczky does note his department does not have the resources to perform this inventory by themselves and through conversations with DEEP; it has been determined the inventory can be taken with both departments cooperation.

Commissioner Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH, MPA, Department of Public Health (DPH):

Commissioner Mullen and DPH note they have received numerous complaints from residents living near owfs. The commissioner states these are health related complaints and include respiratory irritation, asthma exacerbation, burning eyes and headaches and are consistent with adverse health effects from owfs. DPH does acknowledge Phase 2 owfs emit less smoke and will lead to decrease particular matter emitted but does not know if it will necessarily mitigate health risks. Furthermore, Commissioner Mullen asks that DPH be removed as an enforcement authority under section (d) of the bill, stating it is inappropriate for them to enforce provisions of section 22a-174k of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS). The department notes DEEP is in agreement and asks the language be changed to include municipal officials. Commissioner Mullen also request section (f) be deleted as it is unnecessary since the department already has the ability to order abatement of health nuisances under “Connecticut General Statutes 19a-206(b) and 19-13-B2 of the Regulations of CT State Agencies.”

Karl J. Wagener, Executive Director, CT Council on Environmental Quality:

Ms. Wagener and the Council are in support of the bill, believing it is a “reasonable compromise that allows people to burn wood but…not afflict their neighbors with harmful smoke.” The Council does remind the Committee that if the bill is not enacted this year, it is possible all existing statutory requirements may expire. This would occur if the EPA adopts their own emission requirements for owfs and the bill must be passed in order to maintain reasonable rules for current owfs.


Central Boiler, Inc.:

The company spoke in support of the bill, thanking the committee for not taking punitive action against owf owners. They state for the past few years, their recommendations to the committee have been to take a reasonable approach to update the CGS by including a particulate matter (PM) emission limit in line with EPA standards. By adopting the Phase 2 standards, the PM limit will be set at 032 lbs/million Btu output. Currently, this standard is set in the neighboring states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. Central Boiler does recommend that “the proposal could include provisions that are less restrictive for installing EPA Phase 2 Qualified OWFs similar to other states.” They suggest Connecticut reduce the setback requirement and if not, establish a minimum chimney requirement of 17 feet. Central Boiler references a similar instance when Vermont introduced Phase 2 requirements for owfs.

John Shamansky, Connecticut Outdoor Wood Furnaces:

Mr. Shamansky is in support of the bill, noting he has been working with Central Boiler to pass reasonable owf legislation. His testimony is the same as Central Boiler's and mirrors the points they made about owfs and possible revisions to the bill.

David R. Brown ScD. Public Health Toxicologist, Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI):

Mr. Brown and EHHI are in support of the bill, noting that the bill is a step forward in regards to owfs. He contends in the past, EHHI has presented evidence to the committee demonstrating the health dangers from owfs and the extreme levels of carbon dioxide emitted by these units. Although they support the bill, EHHI does state their belief Phase 2 units will still exposed people who live near them to wood smoke, which contains many of the same components as cigarette smoke. Mr. Brown is particularly supportive of the “clean wood” requirement and the survey of existing units. Finally, EHHI believes there are still numerous health issues with owfs, including Phase 2 units, and sees this bill as a step forward but falls

“short of the protection provided in other States.”

Henry N. Talmage, Executive Director, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association:

Mr. Talmage and the Farm Bureau believe the bill is a step in the right direction, noting they are very pleased owfs installed before July 8, 2005 will remain in operation as well as the provision which defines “clean wood.” The Farm Bureau would like to see an amendment to Section 2 (c) which will allow for the units to be scrapped and new language to “allow for cleaner burning, hi-tech furnaces from Europe and elsewhere to be utilized.”

Nancy Alderman, President, Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI):

Ms. Alderman and EHHI believe the bill is a step in the right direction. However, they state that Phase 2 units are also dangerous and people living near Phase 1 units still face health dangers and are unable to sell their homes.

Michelle Marichal, Acting Director, Health Education and Public Policy, American Lung Association in Connecticut:

Ms. Marichal and her association are in support of the bill but they are not satisfied with it is as written. While it is a step forward, they do contend Phase 2 units are also polluting and dangerous to public health. The association notes EPA studies have shown long and short term exposure to wood smoke can lead to numerous health problems including but not limited to respiratory disease as well as chronic bronchitis. Ms. Marichal also states the minimum setback and stack height requirements do not “provide assurance that the emissions from these units will not pose a threat to human health.” They state even though several towns have banned owfs, this needs to be done on the state level.


Karen Spargo, President, Connecticut Association of Directors of Health (CADH) and Director, Health of the Naugatuck Valley Health District:

Ms. Spargo and CADH are in opposition to the bill, believing it does not go far enough to protect public health and because “local health directors should only enforce laws relating to OWFs through the nuisance section of the Public Health Code.” CADH contends any smoke generated by owfs is inherently dangerous and the only way to protect public health is a complete ban on the furnaces. Although requiring Phase 2 is a step in the right direction, Ms. Spargo believes this will still not protect the public. She also contends local health directors do not have the expertise to enforce these ordnances, noting even owfs which meet current requirements must be investigated under statutes, which significantly challenges the resources of the local departments. Ms. Spargo and CADH feel this enforcement authority lies with DEEP and the restrictions on sales of certain unit's falling under the purview of the Department of Consumer Protection.

David W. Boone, MPH, RS, Legislative Chairman, Connecticut Environmental Health Association (CEHA):

Mr. Boone and CEHA are opposed to the bill, noting that even when used properly, owfs are still dangerous to public health. They note many local municipalities have already banned the use of owfs and are in support of a state-wide prohibition.

Reported by: Edward Schaeffer

Date: 04/03/2013