2011 Sept. 2: CT: Ten cases of harm from Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB or OWF) wood smoke from OWB-owning neighbors in Connecticut
Environment and Human Health, Inc.
1191 Ridge Road
North Haven, Connecticut 06473
Phone (203)248-6582 Fax (203)288-7571
Below are eight (10) testimonies from people who have come to Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) only after they have exhausted all other avenues – that means they did not get help from the CT DEP, CT DOH or their local health departments who all said they did not have jurisdiction. For some people who can afford it – they have hired lawyers and even they have lost under the present lack of laws. Here are some testimonies from families being harmed in Connecticut by wood smoke entering their homes 24/7 from Outdoor Wood Boilers also known as Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces.
Please visit our website for more information http://www.ehhi.org
Nancy Alderman, President
Environment and Human Health, Inc.
Case number 1 Richard Creaturo Newtown, CT
To Environment and Human Health, Inc. Monday November 1, 2010
My name is Richard Creaturo and I live at 332 South Main Street in Newtown, CT. There is an outdoor wood furnace 100 feet from my home. I went to my board of Health here in Newtown and at first they said it’s not under their jurisdiction but i showed then a letter posted on your site concerning the town of Monroe and how they were able to shut one down. They took notice to that letter.
The board of Health here in Newtown wants to see what the DEP says before taking action.
I also printed reports and such concerning the health issues, and Richard Blumenthal’s actions to have them banned. Your site is a great recourse of information and it is comforting to know i am not the only one living this night mare.
The outdoor wood furnace is less than 100 feet from my house it’s huge! The smoke gets into our house. The smoke smells like an old apartment house incinerator!! It’s disgusting.
I left a packet of all this information on my his outdoor stove with a follow up that i will sue him for health related damages.
Right now the outdoor wood furnace is off and I can breath. I am waiting for the DEP to come. I will keep you posted
332 south main st.
Newtown, CT. 06470
Case number 2 From: Suzan Converse Weston, CT
My neighbor across the street has a wood-burning furnace and it has become an extreme disturbance and problem in our lives. Once he begins using his furnace in the fall I can no longer open my windows to get fresh air, in fact, my house is always contaminated by his wood smoke.
I found out that indoor air is 70% of what is outdoors…that no windows or doors can keep the smoke out. I also cannot hang any laundry out on my line because it will get completely smoked out and thus I am forced to use more energy with my clothes dryer. We are very health conscious and environmentally conscious people who make decisions carefully so that we don’t leave much of a footprint.
We feel extremely frustrated that we are defeated in our efforts by someone else’s lack of consideration. One of my children recovered from a serious autoimmune disease before we moved into our house (3 years ago) and had we known the circumstance with my neighbor we would never have bought it.
No one in my family had ever suffered any upper respiratory illness until three years ago. At that time I was very ill and had borderline pneumonia. The following year my entire family spent a day outdoors on our property doing yard work and playing and 3 days later we were all sick with bad coughs and I again was close to pneumonia.
We are very careful not to go out anymore when his furnace is in use and try to have our property cleaned up in the fall before he begins using his furnace. There are times when the smoke is at ground level. I can never even feel comfortable letting my own children out to play for fear of their breathing the toxic wastes. If we could afford to move we would.
We feel trapped and defeated not only by our neighbor but by our town and the illogical grandfather laws allowing someone to harm others if they have been doing it already before a certain time. Why aren’t people protected from wood smoke like this automatically? The people who sold us this house moved because one of the owners had a terminal lung condition and had difficulty going up and down stairs (he used oxygen tanks). Was it exacerbated by my neighbor’s furnace? I feel afraid for our future health and will do anything to stop this man from using his furnace not just for my family’s health but my neighbors’ health and that of the wildlife and plant life that still exists in our area.
ADDED AUGUST 3, 2011
I’d like to add that my daughter (16) has developed a throat condition that started in the spring this year. My neighbor shuts his furnace down for the summer but her symptoms still come occasionally. The doctor said one of her nasal passages is swollen. I don’t know for sure if this is related to the OWF but I wouldn’t doubt it and I am concerned that it could be the beginning of something bad. I hope not.
From: Suzan Converse
Case number 3 Beth Terra New Hartford
Our neighbors at 250 Town Hill Rd. In New Hartford, CT installed an outdoor furnace in Nov. ’08. We had contacted our town who referred us to the DEP. The smoke has been coming into our property and into our home and making us all very ill. We have been having eye irritation, difficulty breathing, headaches, sore throats and feeling nauseous. My little boy had to be placed on steroids and nebulizer treatments due to his breathing difficulties. I have gone to the Farmington Valley Health Dep., but they state that DEP is the only one that has jurisdiction. The smoke and smell is horrible. Mark Potash from DEP did finally come out on 11-12-08 and found the furnace in violation, and informed me to call in nuisance claims if the smoke was still coming onto our property, which it constantly is. I have left numerous phone calls and have only been able to obtain two responses back from the DEP. It’s not fair that we are not able to breath fresh air. Thank-you, Sincerely,
312 Town Hill Rd.
New Hartford, CT 06057
Case Number 4 Wendy Rondeau Brooklyn, CT
In September of 2005, my next-door neighbor installed an outdoor wood-burning furnace also known as an Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB) — Central Boiler Model CL5648. The putrid smell and black smoke would cross our property line, come into our home through windows, doors, air conditioners, and even our dryer vent, causing us to have to wash the clothes a second time.
Our two young daughters and I began experiencing breathing problems that lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, and several sinus and upper respiratory infections. After many visits to our doctor and visits to our local emergency room, the pulmonary doctor found a decrease in my lung function.
In 2005 I contacted my Local Health Department who referred me to the CT DEP. I followed through with them and I am still in constant contact with them.
In January of 2006, the CT DEP cited my neighbor with an opacity violation, and also found his wood-burning furnace to be out of compliance with the new setback regulations of 200 feet from the nearest resident. As well, his outdoor wood burning furnace stack was not high enough – as it needed to be higher than the rooftops of houses within 500 feet. The DEP issued an administrative order to shut his OWB down and required him to move it. He did, and now he is supposedly operating his OWB legally.
However, the wood smoke from his Outdoor Wood Furnace still comes into our home and we still continue to get sick.
My husband and I have written letters, called and sent emails to: the Governor Rell, the Commissioner of the CT DEP, the CT Attorney General, State Representatives and State Senators, the CT Department of Health, our Local Health Department, the Commissioner of the State Police, the local state police department, our town building officer, our town zoning officer, and our First Selectman.
The neighbor burns his OWB all year long even though he has an electric hot water and does not need to do that, and even though it is against the manufacturer’s recommendation and the recommendations of the CT DEP. By burning it all spring, summer and fall to heat his hot water – he creates excessive amounts of smoke.
In 2008, the DEP once again cited him with a nuisance odor violation, and he once again was ordered to shut down for a short time period, but allowed to burn again. Because the DEP has not found a violation in 2009, they have closed the case.
Having nowhere to turn, we were forced to hire an attorney at great expense to us. After spending several thousands of dollars and having our motion for a temporary injunction denied last Friday, my family and I are still forced to live under the same conditions every day and we will continue to get sick – unless someone helps us.
Our children are not able to play outside — due to the excessive amount of smoke in our yard, and I even have to drive them down our driveway to their bus stop because the smell of smoke is too strong for them to have to walk.
36 Tatnic Hill Road
Brooklyn, CT 06234
Case Number 5 Sandra Benge & Christopher Mazza Terryville, CT
Our family has the same problem. Many houses east of us all have a wood stove and the third one has an outdoor wood furnace. The neighborhood is filled with wood burning machines in all directions. Until the State outlaws these outdoor furnaces we are all going to suffer.
In the last ten weeks since the wood stove and outdoor furnace burning have intensified we have suffered from sinus infections, ear infection, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, and pleurisy. The cost is high to us that are down wind from these smoke machines. These people don’t care who they are harming, as long as they are warm and have hot water as cheaply as possible. If they cared they would not be burning. The caveman attitude is ridiculous. If the economy were better we would sell our home and more to a State where wood smoke is banned. The ignorance is overwhelming. I am outraged. The rage I feel is overwhelming at times, as listen to my child wheezing and coughing in his sleep, and hacking up mucous. When I had to rush the ER to find the horrible pain in my right rib cage was pneumonia and pleurisy I was overwhelmed with sadness and hopelessness to be able to keep my child from having to experience this level of pain. Right now he does not pleurisy, but he is on his second round of antibiotics for the pneumonia they diagnosis about 10 days ago. For over ten weeks we have had no relief from these respiratory diseases.
Are there petitions to sign, what is it that we have to do to get help with problem? I know it is a slow process, but some of us are very sick at times from the wood smoke and find it difficult to do much.
Sandra Benge & Christopher Mazza
Terryville, CT in Litchfield County
Case number 6 Kathy LaBlanc North Grosvenoradel CT (Northeast corner of CT)
To Environment and Human Health, Inc.
Our neighbor has an Outdoor Wood Furnace (OWF) .
We live on a hill above him and his OWF chimney and is level with our yard. My children play in smoke. I have at least four migraines a week from the fumes.
Several contractors who were putting siding on our home last fall where shocked because of the heavy smoke and had to work with their faces covered with their sweatshirts.
No one will help us. We have called the building and zoning Department, the fire department, the state police, the health department and the CT DEP. No one has helped us.
My eight and ten year old children have no rights, but my wood-burning neighbor does?
I have filmed the smoke but I cannot film the fumes. The situation causes me to cry because it is emotionally so exhausting. I chip away at the pathetically poor protection that we have in this state and I pray for all the less fortunate who have even poorer health than I do.
We have to breathe my neighbor’s wood smoke 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it is poisoning my lungs! There is NO one stopping him. No one is stepping in? If the state can’t protect its people, and the DEP has no power to stop them, and the local government is too afraid to use their money to stop them, then what are citizens going to do?
12 Wilsonville Rd.
North Grosvenoradel CT (In the Northeast Corner of CT)
Case number 7 Jay and Diane Neiland East Hampton, CT
To: Environment and Human Health, Inc.
My name is Jay Niland; my family and I reside in East Hampton, CT. We unfortunately live next to a house that operates an Outdoor Wood Furnace / Boiler all year ’round. This unit was purchased before the state act which imposes setbacks & stack heights relative to neighboring properties and is grandfathered into the old, non-regulated status. This OWF is approximately 75 feet from our house and our family cannot use our yard or have our windows open when this unit is burning and the wind is from that direction.
My neighbor has a sawmill operation and burns whatever scraps he has in this boiler. As this OWF is used for hot water as well as heat, it operates all year long. The smoke is dense, putrid, acrid, and most times clings to ground level and is slow to dissipate. We must restrict our outdoor activities and must close our windows and run the air conditioning during days and nights when the smoke comes our way. We call in our children and even our pets. The slightest instance of this smoke – sometimes not even seen or smelt – can cause headaches, sinus problems, sore eyes and dry, soar throats. Occasionally on nice days we may like to dry laundry out of doors but cannot if conditions are wrong. I would like to make note that even with windows closed, operation of bathroom ventilation fans, the clothes dryer, furnace or water heater, will cause potentially contaminated outdoor air to seep into the house due to these devices using / expelling inside air and causing negative air pressure within.
At one point my wife’s job required us to relocate. The potential selling real estate agents would devalue our property value because of my neighbor’s outdoor wood furnace. A few interested parties in our house would comment on the smoke and would either severely discount their offer or simply walk away. We have since had to take on the burden of keeping and maintaining this house and only use it seasonally when the children have vacations from school.
Right after operation began of this OWF, we contacted the Town of East Hampton who then referred us to the local Chatham Health District. Officials came out to assess the furnace and we were told that he was in fact grandfathered into the old (non) regulations and that there was nothing they could do about it. We then began making complaints to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. When they would come to investigate, conditions would have changed and either the furnace was not in its active burning mode and/or the wind direction would be such that the smoke was not crossing our property line. DEP officials stated that all they would most likely be able to do was to fine my neighbor and that a permanent suspension of operation would be highly unlikely.
At the very least, a first step in easing the impact of this outdoor wood furnace would be to remove the grandfather clause which allows the operation of these older units close to neighboring properties with no stack height restrictions. Ideally, an overall ban on these OWFs would solve a great number of the state’s pollution and health problems until these can be manufactured to not emit such hazardous components and a way to either monitor or control the wood products which are being consumed within them.
Thank you for your time in this matter.
Jay T. & Diane L. Niland
177 Lake Drive
East Hampton, CT 06424
260 Cornatzer Road
Mocksville, NC 27028
Case number 8 Deloma Anderson Harwinton, CT
To Environment and Human Health, Inc.
I live at 104 Harmony Hill Road Harwinton, Connecticut. Almost every night since last October, 2009, between the hours of 9pm and 4am – my down stairs living room and 2 upstairs bedrooms fill up with smoke from my neighbor’s outdoor wood furnace. They live at 95 Harmony Hill Road. We started complaining this past February 12, 2010 when the smoke and creosote smell was so bad inside our home that we thought our house was on fire. The Town of Harwinton, the CT DEP, the Torrington Health Department and state police have all said that nothing can be done as the neighbor is in compliance with all the required codes and “they can not document smoke at night”
Because this smoke is so bad inside of our home our dog keeps sneezing, my daughter and I suffer from severe headaches and I have breathing problems. The smoke from the outdoor wood furnace has entered our home and aggravated my pre-exiting lung and asthma conditions.
My condition became so bad that I went to the emergency room on February 27, 2010 and was hospitalized until March 4th. I now have to do home breathing treatments 3-4 times a day.
As well we have another neighbor at 66 Harmony Hill Road who also has an out door wood furnace.
104 Harmony Hill Road
Harwinton, CT 06791-0062
Case number 9 Louis and Sarah Gelada Woodbury, CT
To Environment and Human Health, Inc.
The purpose of this email is to voice a concern regarding poor air quality as a result of smoke from an outdoor wood burning furnace (OWF) on me neighbor’s property. My wife and I are located at 64 Cross Brook Road, Woodbury, CT 06798-1504. My neighbor is located at 76 Cross Brook Rd, Woodbury, CT 06798-1504. The neighbors are ___. Their telephone number is ___.
Last evening (Tuesday August 23, 2011), my wife and I both noticed the smell of wood smoke passing through our upstairs windows. We had several of our windows open on the front side of our home. Unfortunately, due to my asthma, the smoke caused me to get into a coughing fit.
Based on my understanding of Connecticut General Statute 22a-174k (regarding Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces), it is illegal for a person to “cause or permit the emission of any substance of combination of substances which creates or contributes to an odor, in the ambient air, that constitutes a nuisance. Additionally, an odor constitutes a nuisance if present with such intensity, characteristics, frequency and duration that; it is, or can reasonably be expected to be injurious to public health or welfare, or it unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of life or the use of property.
I have lived in this house since May 2004. I enjoy living in the country for many reasons, but especially for the clean, fresh air. The onset of the OWF at 76 Cross Brook Rd, Woodbury has created a nuisance for my wife and me and has made it difficult and sometimes impossible for us to enjoy having our windows open for the purpose of having fresh air.
The town fire marshall, Janet Morgan, has asked that I log a concern each time I notice it. Unfortunately, she also stated that this issue is between me and my neighbor. I respect her opinion but I don’t agree with it. I believe that the smoke emanating from their OWF is a health hazard, is injurious to the citizens in the area of their home/OWF and needs to be shut down.
I would appreciate it if someone from your department would follow up on my concern.
Thank you for your attention to this important health matter.
Louis & Sarah Gelada
64 Cross Brook Road
Woodbury, CT 06798-1504
Case number 10 Andrea and Bruce Fitzgerald Woodbury, CT
To Environment and Human Health, Inc.
We write about our neighbor’s OWF at 76 Cross Brook Rd, Woodbury, CT
It has been nearly two years since we began this quest to shut his OWF down. I initially contacted the DEP (Mr. Phil Schell) and he investigated, spoke with our neighbor and negotiated an agreement with same to only burn in late Fall and Winter so as not to impact the neighbors.
___ agreed, and once Mr. Schnell left, the OWF was in full burn. We reported it, and were told there was nothing that could be done. We then contacted our First Selectman and the Attorney General’s office. The Atty General’s office suggested we hire a lawyer and sue, but when investigating this option, we were told that the best that would happen is that we would stop any future furnaces from being installed, but our neighbor’s would most likely be “grandfathered.”
The First Selectman directed me to the Pomperaug Heath District. I worked with a gentleman there, Neil Lustig. I have made repeated reports to his office, per his direction, but the noxious odors are usually very early in the morning, or later in the evening, when the offices are closed. So at best, our complaints are logged on an answering machine.
He did finally come up to observe the situation and very candidly told my husband that the DEP will not enforce against a homeowner. We once again called the DEP, as the stench and smoke was not getting any better, even though ___ raised the chimney stack and relocated the unit. Once again, a DEP rep came up to check out the placement and the installation of the OWF. He turned the investigation over to Tim Marsh and Mr. Marsh contacted me and said that ___ was in compliance and that nothing more could be done.
He even provided me with a surveyor’s report showing that ___ had installed everything correctly and was in full complaince. Well, this is not exactly true. I found out quite by accident that ___ had never obtained a town zoning permit. I spoke with the zoning officer and she showed me the regulation that states the smoke must not cross property lines or be a nuisance. It does both of these on a regular basis.
My husband reacts very Also, there have been many times, when we would be entertaining on our deck and pool, and have had the go inside because of the smoke and smell. Sometimes it’s choking. If you were to come to my home and “sniff” my drapes, upholstered furnishings or rugs, you’d notice the smokey smell. I have to clean much more often as my husband could have a reaction. It’s getting very tiring. I often joke that we live in a perpetual forest fire… but it’s no joking matter. We are completely frustrated at this point.
We are all at our wits end. We cannot understand why this OWF has been allowed to pollute the air for so long without anyone doing anything about it. By the DEP’s own information, the smoke can contain carcinogens, toxins, particulates, etc… and yet, we are having to deal with this nearly every day. Will we have to become seriously ill before it will be shut down? We log complaint after complaint… and now, even though he has no permit, he is still buring.
We would be forever in your debt if you could please help us in this regard. We have a lot invested in our homes and would like to be allowed to quietly enjoy them, free of any fear of health risks or noxious odors. I often ask those with whom I am working one question, and I’ll ask it of you…. what would you do if it was your home and family? Would you want to live in this situation?
Thanking you in advance for your anticipated help.
Please feel to contact either myself or my husband, Bruce, should you like to discuss the situation or stop by…
66 Cross Brook Road