Several construction and demolition (C&D) activities impact outdoor air
quality. Open burning of cleared vegetation or C&D waste can produce smoke,
total suspended particulate (TSP) matter, carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrocarbon
emissions. Negative human health effects from these emissions have been linked
with various heart and respiratory diseases.
See Section 4-Design Considerations for information about indoor air quality
(radon, VOCs, carpet installation, formaldehyde, biological contaminants, combustion
pollutants, and CFCs). For information about asbestos, see Section 9-Special
Construction activities that impact air quality will more than likely require
some sort of permit and will be strictly regulated. Of major concern is
open burning. Using fire to clear land and dispose of debris is a major
source of air pollution. Particularly in populated areas, pollution from outdoor
burning threatens public health and the environment.
Always check with your local fire department before you burn. State and local
regulations apply to:
- Fires in burn barrels, outdoor fireplaces, and backyard incinerators
- Burning yard debris or land waste
- Burning stumps to clear land
- Burning construction or demolition debris
Regulations may prohibit open burning of the following materials:
- Treated lumber and timber
- Hazardous wastes
- Automobile parts
- Wire insulation
- Rubber products
- Styrofoam and other plastics
- Tar paper
- Wet garbage
- Oil, petroleum, or petroleum-treated products, including painted wood and
wood treated with creosote or pentachlorophenol
- Industrial waste
- Any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors
- Food wastes
Permitting may be required on multiple levels, make sure you have completed
all required applications. Individual fire districts issue fire permits
and may prohibit open burning based on local fire safety concerns. Many
communities have local laws prohibiting or restricting open burning. Before
starting a fire, always check with your local fire department to see if burning
is allowed in that community on that particular day.
Best Pollution Prevention Practices
- Provide an alternative to burning plant and
- Take cleared vegetation and wood debris to
a composting facility or have it chipped on-site and used for mulch.
PARTICULATE EMISSIONS CONTROL
Construction and demolition activities have the potential to cause large amounts
of dust. These types of emissions minimized wherever possible, and are
probably regulated in your area. These emissions result from:
- Construction, alteration, repair, or demolition of buildings or roads
- Operation of equipment
- Handling, transport, or storage of materials
Best Pollution Prevention Practices
- To prevent particulate matter from becoming
- Use of water or non-toxic chemicals to control
dust around material stockpiles during demolition, construction,
grading of roads, or clearing of land.
- Limit the driving speed of construction vehicles.
- Enclose material stockpiles when the use of
water or chemicals is not sufficient to prevent particulate matter
from becoming airborne.
- Install and use hoods, fans, and fabric filters
to enclose and vent particulates from dusty materials.
- Provide adequate containment during sandblasting
or other similar operations.
- Cover open-bodied trucks that transport materials
likely to become airborne.
- Promptly remove from paved streets dirt or
other material that could become airborne.
WOOD HEATING DEVICES
Residential wood heating devices contribute to air pollution and some communities,
because of climatological factors and large numbers of wood burning homes, do
not meet EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM-10 (particulate
matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 micrometers and less). In response
to past PM-10 NAAQS violations, many communities are becoming especially stringent
in their wood burning requirements.
The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1990 directs each state to take steps to
demonstrate attainment of the PM-10 NAAQS. Always try to install low-emission
Federal regulations require all new woodstoves to meet EPA certification standards.
EPA-certified woodstoves (known as Phase II Residential Wood Heaters) and New
Source Performance Standards (NSPS)-exempt wood heating appliances are currently
the only wood heating devices that can be sold in the United States. Based on
specific design criteria, NSPS-exempt appliances are exempt from wood heating
emission limits. Contact local authorities for more information about NSPS-exempt
EPA began certifying woodstoves and fireplace inserts in 1990. EPA distributes
a list of over 200 certified woodstoves manufactured in the U.S. Contact EPA
for a copy of this list. Installation of woodstoves must follow procedures
in Tables 5A-5D in the 1991 edition of the Uniform Mechanical Code. Used, non-certified
wood heating devices may be sold for scrap or traded in.
EPA-certified woodstoves and fireplace inserts have a permanent label that
includes ratings for smoke emissions and heating efficiency. Rules and
regulations for the proper installation of heating devices vary by county. Always
contact local authorities to check current policies.
- 40 CFR, Part 60, Subpart AAA, Section 60.530 through 60.539b Federal wood
- U.S. EPA (202) 564-7091
Wood Heater Program 2223-A
401 M St., SW
Washington, DC 20460
(Fact Sheet 10 of 12)