Residential oil boilers raise health concerns for Northeastern U.S.

Mar 10, 2008
Oil Boiler
Residential oil boilers, such as the one shown above, are used frequently to heat homes in New England. A recent study suggests more attention should be paid to their emissions, which could cause asthma and other health problems. Credit: Courtesy of Roger McDonald, Brookhaven National Laboratory

New research suggests that residential oil boilers, commonly used for home heating in the northeastern United States, should receive more attention as sources of air pollutants. The study — the first to identify certain specific air pollutants in home heating oil emissions — is scheduled for the April 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology.

Homes in the New England and Central Atlantic States consume about 80 percent of the 25 billion gallons of home heating oil burned in the United States. Scientists have been aware of potential public health effects of those emissions. However, there has been little specific information about the nature of the emissions.

Michael D. Hays and colleagues tackled that knowledge gap in their new study, which aimed to obtain improved or missing pollutant information for the popular home heating source. Among the substances of concern identified in the study were fine particulate matter known to cause asthma, bronchitis, and other health problems. “The residential oil burner is a source of numerous hazardous air pollutants and ultrafine particles and, hence, may warrant more attention in the future than it has received so far,” say the authors.

The research was conducted as part of a long-term national research program designed to better characterize particulate matter and its chemical precursors. The results are used to improve source emissions inventories and support efforts to determine how specific sources contribute to pollutant concentrations measured in the atmosphere.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Heat waves becoming more prominent in urban areas, research reveals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Arrival of the drones: 20 uses for unmanned aircraft

Jan 07, 2015

Most people think of drones as instruments of warfare, but as the Federal Aviation Administration slowly opens U.S. airspace to commercial use of unmanned aircraft, they are going to become more commonplace.

October was 'bumper' month for Scotland's renewables

Nov 07, 2014

Any way you look at it— the solar PV panels, the solar hot water panels, the wind turbines—Scotland turned out to have a bumper month for renewables in October. Wind turbines generated an estimated 982,842MWh ...

Renewable energy companies use new clout in statehouses

Dec 24, 2014

Earlier this year, Ohio became the first state to freeze a scheduled increase in the amount of electricity that must be generated by wind, solar and other renewable sources. The move gave advocates of repealing states' mandatory ...

Rolling lab tracks methane to its source

Dec 19, 2014

McHenry Township, Lycoming County. Equipped with a gray box, a map and an SUV, Thomas Lauvaux and a team from Penn State's Department of Meteorology has been at it for hours, taking measurements and racking ...

Recommended for you

Measuring phosphorus loss from Midwest crop fields

20 hours ago

Field runoff from farms in the Lake Erie basin is often rich in soluble plant nutrients, including phosphorus. When this nutrient-rich runoff reaches the lake, the phosphorus can support abundant algal blooms ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.