FAIRBANKS — State clean-air officials are asking woodcutters to participate in a new program to document moisture content of firewood sold in neighborhoods regularly polluted by wood smoke.
Officials from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, including state air quality program manager Cindy Heil, met with woodcutters Thursday to explain the program, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The burning of wood and coal as an alternative to high-priced heating oil is a major source of fine particulate, a chronic Fairbanks wintertime pollutant linked to heart attacks and decreased lung function. The DEC last month released proposed wood-stove regulations designed to help Fairbanks meet federal clean air standards.
Using green wood with high moisture content can lead to incomplete burning and more air pollution. The effects of burning wet wood can be reduced if it's burned with wood pellet logs.
Woodcutters in the moisture documentation program would collect forms from buyers acknowledging the moisture content of the firewood they buy.
The documentation is voluntary but could become mandatory if the smoke pollution problem gets worse, Heil said.
"Help us develop this where it makes the most sense," Heil told woodcutters.
Woodcutters who sign up would be added to a state list of certified wood sellers. The state is designing a "certified wood seller" that could be used to promote sales.
Firewood sellers were skeptical. One wood seller said the form might appear to be an invasion of customers' privacy. Another said measuring moisture content of wood in winter is impractical.
Woodcutter Wayne Hunter suggested the state provide free moisture meters to wood burners.
"You put the responsibility on the wood burner," Hunter said. "Even if we sell seasoned wood, if they are burning it improperly, it's still going to make smoke."