Keene, A Case Study

Keene is a valley community in southwestern New Hampshire. Largely because of wood smoke emissions in winter, Keene can experience periods of PM2.5 concentrations near or over EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5. Because these high-PM2.5 events have been monitored more frequently in Keene than in other New Hampshire monitoring locations, New Hampshire has undertaken several special studies and outreach efforts to better understand and address the issue of high wintertime PM2.5 in Keene. See below for more information.

Please read the NHDES fact sheet Wood Stoves and Air Pollution for a summary of how winter pollution can build up in valleys like Keene and how you can help lower wood smoke emissions. Find additional information related to wood stoves and other wood burning devices at NHDES’ Wood Smoke and Wood Stoves/Outdoor Wood Boilers and EPA’s Burnwise.

photo of clouds hovering over the Keene, NH valleyThe Keene Valley: Clouds settle over the City of Keene.  On some winter nights, pollution also becomes trapped in the valley bowl.





Mobile Air Monitoring Study
To better understand winter-night concentrations of PM2.5, NHDES investigated parts of the state without a permanent monitoring station using a mobile monitoring vehicle. During the winters of 2010-11 and 2011-12, on nights when pollution levels were expected to be high, air monitoring staff drove many miles throughout the state monitoring real-time PM2.5 along the way. Though the data collected were only snapshots of any one place, the results showed that Keene can experience some of the highest levels in the state, though other valleys may reach similar levels of wood smoke pollution at times. Most other areas in New Hampshire experience fewer periods when wood smoke concentrations are near the standard. For details about this study, please read the NHDES report NH Mobile Air Monitoring Special Study on Small Particles, 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Wood Stove Changeouts
The high levels of PM2.5 measured on winter nights in Keene prompted NHDES to conduct a wood stove changeout in Keene October 2009 – June 2010, replacing 86 wood stoves with cleaner heating devices. Please see Keene Woodstove Changeout Campaign for more information.

With support from NHDES, the American Lung Association launched a second wood stove changeout program in 2015 to make it possible for even more residents of Cheshire County, including Keene, to replace old wood stoves with cleaner alternatives.

Ongoing Outreach
NHDES continues to provide education and outreach to communities in the Keene region. These efforts are strengthened through a partnership with other organizations, including the City of Keene, Southwest Regional Planning Commission (SWRPC), Cheshire Medical Center, Greater Monadnock Public Health Network, and Keene State College. Please visit the SWRPC website for the latest information and promotional materials.