Woodheater-Car Comparison

Discussion on health consequences of air particulates

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Woodheater-Car Comparison

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:27 pm

Woodheater-Car Comparison

Many people think that cars are the worst pollutants. Sydney has lots of cars but few woodheaters, so we’d expect all the passenger cars in Sydney to produce more total pollution than the small number of woodheaters.

But the most health-hazardous air pollutant, PM2.5, this is not true. A total of 4503 tonnes of PM2.5 per year in Sydney are emitted by Sydney’s woodheaters, compared to a total of 797 tonnes for all passenger cars. In other words, the average woodheater emits 96 times as much PM2.5 pollutiion as the average passenger car.

Sydney has lots of cars. Armidale has lots of woodheaters. The graph below compares monthly average PM2.5 nephelometer measurements, recorded by the NSW EPA in Armidale in 1996 and Sydney in 1999. When woodheaters are not in use, Armidale has cleaner air. But as soon as the woodheating season starts, Armidale's pollution rises dramatically, with only a small rise in Sydney where only 4.3% of households use wood as the main form of heating. This again shows that the average woodheater emits a lot more health-hazardous PM2.5 pollution than the average car and that the only way for Armidale to have wintertime air that is as clean and healthy as in Sydney is for residents to use non-polluting heating.

Prof John Todd’s article in “Clean Air and Environmental Quality” notes that there has been “only marginal improvement over the past 15 years” in woodheater emissions. Emissions from new cars have also improved. A new car driving 15,000 km per year emits about 150 g of PM2.5. With average fuel consumption of 2 tonnes per year (Sydney) or 4 tonnes (Armidale), a new woodheater will emit 133 times (Sydney) or 267 times (Armidale) as much health-hazardous PM2.5 pollution as the average new car driving 15,000 km per year.

Woodheaters also emit more greenhouse gases than other forms of heating. Many councils offer subsidies to replace woodheaters with non-polluting heating. Woodheater owners who are concerned about their health or the environment should remember the advice of the NSW DECC “If you can see or smell smoke from your wood heater then you are causing a problem for yourself, your family and your neighbors” and consider taking up this offer.

The table below compares all major pollutants and air toxics emitted by the average passenger car and the average woodheater. In general, woodheaters emit more toxic pollutants – about 10 times as many PAH as the average car,
6 times as much benzene and other VOC (volatile organic compounds) and 39 times as much formaldehyde.



article submitted by Dorre

related articles

ABC News April 2008: Wood smoke worse that car exhausts
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008 ... ?site=news

Norwegian Study comparing genetic damage from woodsmoke and traffic in human cell lines
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_o ... 8bb92128f3

Greenhouse gases.
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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