How does Heating Oil affect our Air Quality?
Approximately 99% of the sulfur in fuel is oxidized to sulfur dioxide during combusion and emitted from the stack or chimney. This combustion product contributes to air pollution.
Here's how is happens
When burned, high sulfur fuels emit sulfur dioxide in the form of microscopic soot particles known as particulates...specks so small they can be breathed into the deepest part of the lung. The most minute of these can even make their way into the bloodstream. Of all the outdoor air pollutants, exposure to particle pollution from fuels, coal-burning power plants and other industrial uses results in more deaths than any other. Particulates attack the body's respiratory and cardiovascular functions, resulting in decreased lung function, asthma attacks, development of chronic bronchitis and irregular heartbeats.
Current Federal and State Mandates
The federal government has already enacted mandates that require the use of low sulfur diesel fuel for off road purposes and ultra low sulfur diesel fuel for highway vehicles. That takes care of the commercial side.
On the residential side...the Northeast is the largest consumer of heating oil in the United States. Some states in the Northeast such as New York among others have mandated the use of ultra low sulfur heating oil as early as 2012. Other states in the Northeast are introducing legislature to reduce the allowable sulfur in heating oil as well.