Merritt received $13,745 from the wood stove exchange program to encourage residents to trade in their smokey old wood stoves for a high-efficiency model or other clean-burning appliance, Environment Minister Terry Lake announed last week.

Earlier this year, the province provided $200,000 to the BC Lung Association to continue and expand the successfull wood stove exchange program in 2012. The funding allows Merritt and other participating communities to offer a $250 rebate on the purchase of a new wood stove, insert, pellet stove or gas stove/fireplace.

“The wood stove exchange program helps raise awareness about the problems associated with older wood stoves and encourages homeowners to replace ‘old smokey’,” said Lake.

New high-efficiency wood stoves are proven to burn one-third less wood, reduce emissions by up to 70 per cent and significantly reduce the risk of chimney fires. The approximately 116,000 older model stoves currently in use around the province can affect the health of home owners, their neighbours and overall airshed health.

Wood smoke contains tiny particles called particulate matter. Particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less in diameter is small enough to be breathed into the deepest part of the lungs. It is associated with all sorts of health problems, from a runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, heart disease and even premature death.