From The Alaska Science Forum, Sunday, August 15, 2010:
A friend says that among his most satisfying moments are those he stands contemplating his pile of firewood. He inhales the sweetness of birch, the tang of aspen and the sharp bite of spruce while he ponders the moisture wafting out of his wood.
My friend knows how to have a good time. And he is appreciating a process that is important in places where people burn wood and release its smoke into an air column that doesn’t stir much in winter — burned dry wood results in much better air quality than wetter wood.
“I think it’s a big issue,” said John Davies, a longtime woodburner and senior researcher for energy policy at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks. Researchers at the center recently collected firewood from people in Fairbanks to check it for moisture content, and are also measuring the drying progress of cordwood they have stacked on the grounds of the center in Fairbanks. Fairbanks often exceeds Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards. Its poor winter air quality is due in a large part to the emissions from wood smoke. People make the problem worse when burning unseasoned wood.