Madison and Dane County regularly top lists for the best places to live, but there's one distinction they're trying to lose. Dane County has the third-highest particle air pollution in the eight-state upper Midwest.
The levels get particularly high in the cold months, when people fire up their wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, says Lisa MacKinnon, director of the Dane County Clean Air Coalition. In 2010, there were eight days when the county exceeded the acceptable limit for particle pollution, putting people at heightened risk of cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
This year, the Coalition obtained a $50,000 grant to encourage people to replace their old wood-burning stoves. The program gives people a $750 rebate for buying a newer, cleaner wood stove or fireplace insert. Combined with tax credits and manufacturers' rebates, residents are eligible for as much as $1,500 toward the purchase of a new stove, which can run around $3,000, she says.
The Sept. 30 deadline is fast approaching. For information call MacKinnon at 608-266-9063 or go to healthyairdane.org/woodstove.aspx.