Wood boilers trouble some La Porte residents

LA PORTE, Ind. -- When the leaves start to fall on the ground is when James Donnelly knows it's 'that time of year again.'

"It's a constant threat," Donnelly said. "It's a constant pumping of material into the air."

For almost a decade, Donnelly has been fighting to improve the air quality in La Porte County.

He has concerns over outdoor wood boilers, which emit invisible, but toxic chemicals into the air.

"PM2.5 is smaller than a human hair," Donnelly said. "The material travels for many miles, and can stay airborne for days. It can go into a closed home."

Those emissions are especially dangerous to children and the elderly, and the issue is only getting worse.

In the last decade, La Porte County has seen nearly a 3,000% increase in outdoor wood boilers, but despite his best attempts, Donnelly hasn't been able to change the minds of County Commissioners.

"I have brought them the scientific information that proves unequivocally that the outdoor wood fire boilers that are being marketed are bad for people's health," Donnelly said.

Dr. Vidya Kora is a Michigan City physician and is currently running for La Porte County Commissioner.

As a doctor, Kora said he agrees with Donnelly on improving air quality, but doesn't want to infringe upon personal freedoms.

"Maybe we can continue to work on trying to allow those devices with the least amount of potential for pollution," Dr. Kora said. "So that people have the opportunity to provide themselves some heat."

If elected, he's hoping to make a compromise on the issue.

And for Donnelly, that can't come soon enough.

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