Searching for alternative fuel sources during the energy crisis in the 1970s, many Americans rediscovered wood. With the increase in wood burning came new concerns about the impact of wood-smoke emissions on air quality. REGULATORY PRESSURES Under pressure from environmental groups, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began in 1986 to collect data on the combustion efficiency of woodstoves and on the characteristics of their emissions. EPA started looking at the amount of potentially harmful material woodstoves release into the atmosphere, including emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and particulate matter (PM). The agency developed guidelines and standards for woodstove emissions, based on the results of tests performed according to specific laboratory procedures. Some of the proposed regulations allowed only EPA-certified woodburning appliances, effectively banning both conventional masonry fireplaces and masonry heaters. Masonry advocates objected. In 1989, they began working on a research program to provide acceptable test data to support their position. TEST PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT For reasons of economy and practicality, sponsors wanted a test that could be performed in the field, where units were fully installed and functioning normally. It was important to generate data that could be compared with data from EPA-method stove tests, but at the same time reflected the differences in how heaters and fireplaces are used. Dr. Stockton G. Barnett, of OMNI Environmental Services Inc., had spent several years developing such a test, using a unit called the Automated Woodstove Emissions Sampler or AWES. PROMISING RESULTS These emission studies have already shown positive results. The OMNI masonry heater tests confirmed the claim of heater advocates that these units are both clean and efficient. After auditing these results, EPA approved the AWES field test method as a way to determine compliance with its emission standards.