Some funds will replace old wood stoves
Who qualifies for a new stove?
Homeowners in or near Twisp
Valid photo ID
Proof of current address
Uses an uncertified or pre-1998 wood stove as main heat source
Those interested in participating in the free wood-stove exchange should contact Liz Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Methow Valley Citizens Council (MVCC) received two grants intended to help valley residents breathe easier.
A $120,000 grant from the state Department of Ecology will enable people to exchange their old wood stoves for a state-certified stove that releases less harmful particulate pollution.
The aim is to replace up to 25 wood stoves in or near the Twisp town limits, at no cost to the homeowner. North Valley Lumber is installing the new heaters. Low-income households that use an uncertified or pre-1998 wood stove as their primary heat source qualify for the exchange program.
Stoves that meet state certification emit 2.5 grams or less per hour of what is called PM2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 microns. (A micron is one millionth of a meter; a human hair is about 70 microns in diameter.) Older, uncertified wood stoves release 15 to 30 grams of PM2.5 per hour, according to a MVCC press release.
“Changing out 25 old, smoky wood stoves should make a significant impact on the winter air pollution issue in Twisp and improve all of our health,” said Dr. Raleigh Bowden, who founded Clean Air Methow in 2015. Clean Air Methow is a part of MVCC, and its primary focus is reducing PM2.5 air pollution.
PM2.5 is especially dangerous because it can reach deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. PM2.5 pollution is linked to decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, heart attacks and premature death in people with heart or lung disease, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Twisp’s air quality ranked among the worst in the state in 2016, according to Ecology, and that was due in part to high levels of PM2.5 from wood stoves. Wildfires, prescribed burns, and residential outdoor burning compound the valley’s air pollution problem.
Older stoves release up to 12 times the amount of PM2.5 released by newer, state-certified stoves.
Valley residents will get a better handle on air pollution levels across the valley with a second, $30,000 grant to MVCC from the EPA.
The environmental justice grant will add a larger outreach component to the valley’s Clean Air Ambassador program. The ambassadors host a network of 25 low-cost air quality sensors throughout the Methow Valley, from Lost River Airport to Pateros.
The grant will be used to train the ambassadors in social-media marketing, and in explaining the risks of bad air quality and potential solutions, including masks and indoor air purifiers.
The grant also will fund translation of the Clean Air Ambassador program’s outreach materials into Spanish.
Real-time air quality data from the monitors is accessed through the website purpleair.com. Businesses whose employees work outdoors can use the website to gauge how long they can work safely or when to don masks. Families who live in a part of the valley that is especially hard-hit by wildfire smoke can see where else they might go for the day, to find cleaner air to breathe.
Some of the EPA grant money may be used to purchase additional pollution sensors for parts of the valley where there might be data gaps, said Liz Walker, director of Clean Air Methow.