www.co.hunterdon.nj.us | Department of Health | 2008 Public Information & Notices Dated 09/22/2008

County Health Department
For more information, contact Carl Rachel at 908-788-1351


If you are considering installing a wood-fired boiler or if you already have one operating at your property, be aware that the State of New Jersey has strict guidelines and laws about these systems.  If your unit violates the regulations, you are subject to fines and penalties by local agencies responsible for enforcing the law.

“Outdoor wood-fired boilers, a type of indirect heat exchanger, have to comply with state laws protecting clean air,” said Jim Gallos, head of the Consumer Health team with the Hunterdon County Department of Health.  The regulation, N.J.A.C. 7:27-3, states clearly that stationary indirect heat exchangers, such as outdoor wood-fired boilers, produce no smoke, except for three minutes in any 30-minute period.  “This rule does not apply to outdoor fireplaces, such as chimineas or fire pits, indoor fireplaces, and coal or pellet stoves,” Gallos explained.

“We’re working to get word out to Hunterdon County residents that if they own or operate an outdoor wood-fired boiler that produces visible emissions for more than 3 minutes per 30-minute period, they are in violation. In our county, the local boards of health and the county health department are responsible for ensuring that compliance with this standard is maintained,” said Gallos.  “Our registered environmental health specialists make field trips to do inspections when we receive complaints.”

Since no known wood-fired boiler has yet complied with the N.J. standard, any such unit operating in the county will likely violate state law. “When we find a system producing visible smoke, we will typically issue a fine and an order to cease the violation,” explained Gallos.    

“We want residents to know that this is a law protecting public health, and not just an inconvenience,” Gallos added.  “People ask why we need this law and that’s a fair question. I think the answer provides the best reasons. Inhaling smoke from an outdoor wood-fired boiler presents a health risk for you, your family, and your neighbors. That’s science that we can’t argue with.”

What kind of health risks do wood-fired boilers present? Consider this: Wood smoke contains fine particulate matter and toxic contaminants. Here are just a few examples of what fine particulate matter is linked to: aggravated asthma, reduced lung function, development of chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, premature death in persons with heart and lung disease. Children and older adults are also most vulnerable to the effects of fine particulate matter.

Emissions from burning wood contain harmful air pollutants including sulfur dioxides, nitrogen dioxides, carbon monoxide polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, formaldehyde, and dioxins.

“The health risks you increase for yourself, your family, and your community far outweighs any savings you might realize from an outdoor wood-fired boiler,” said Gallos.

For more information about outdoor wood-fired boilers, contact the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Northern Regional Office at 973-656-4444.

| Department of Health | 2008 Public Information & Notices