Residential indoor PM2.5 in wood stove homes: follow-up of the Libby changeout program

Indoor Air. 2012 Dec;22(6):492-500. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2012.00789.x. Epub 2012 Jun 18.


In 2005 through 2008, a small rural mountain valley community engaged in a woodstove changeout program to address concerns of poor ambient air quality. During this program, we assessed changes to indoor air quality before and after the introduction of a new, lower emission woodstove. We previously reported a >70% reduction in indoor PM(2.5) concentrations in homes following the installation of a new Environmental Protection Agency's-certified stove within the home. We report here on follow-up of the experiences in these and other homes over three winters of sample collection. In 21 homes, we compared pre-changeout PM(2.5) concentrations [mean (s.d.) = 45.0 (33.0) μg/m(3)] to multiple post-changeout measures of PM(2.5) concentrations using a DustTrak. The mean reduction (and 95% confidence interval) from pre-changeout to post-changeout was -18.5 μg/m(3) (-31.9, -5.2), adjusting for ambient PM(2.5) , ambient temperature, and other factors. Findings across homes and across years were highly variable, and a subset of homes did not experience a reduction in PM(2.5) following changeout. Reductions were also observed for organic carbon, elemental carbon, and levoglucosan, but increases were observed for dehydroabietic acid and abietic acid. Despite overall improvements in indoor air quality, the varied response across homes may be due to factors other than the introduction of a new woodstove.

Practical implications: Biomass combustion is a common source of ambient PM(2.5) in many cold-climate communities. The replacement of older model woodstoves with newer technology woodstoves is a potential intervention strategy to improve air quality in these communities. In addition to ambient air, woodstove changeouts should improve residential indoor air quality. We present results from a multi-winter study to evaluate the efficacy of woodstove changeouts on improving indoor air quality. Reductions in indoor PM(2.5) were evident, but this observation was not consistent across all homes. These findings suggest that other factors beyond the introduction of an improved wood burning device are relevant to improving indoor air quality in wood burning homes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Heating / instrumentation*
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Temperature
  • Wood


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Particulate Matter
  • Carbon