Letter: Wood burning stoves — an uncomfortable truth

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Letter: Wood burning stoves — an uncomfortable truth

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:29 pm

Letter: Wood burning stoves — an uncomfortable truth

By mbarber | Posted: February 23, 2017

In response to Paul Dibben's letter I feel some clarification is need to prevent readers from being misled. My original letter quoted recent official DEFRA statistics published 21st Dec 2016. Regarding PM2.5 and PM10 it was stated: "most of the emissions — 79 per cent for both pollutants — are from the use of wood as a domestic fuel", hence wood burning stoves are now the single largest cause of the most harmful pollutant.

On cold days, especially at the weekend when people light their stoves, our nearest real-time air quality stations, located in Southampton and Chilbolton, consistently show levels of PM2.5 that are worse than the most polluted streets in London. Given that Chilbolton is a small village with little traffic and fewer than 1000 population, it is no exaggeration to be alarmed that local air quality is astronomically bad, often worse than London. During the cold snap on 11/12 February, Chilbolton and Southampton skyrocketed to over 153ug/m3 PM2.5. Anyone can view the data real-time by visiting http://aqicn.org. Unless one believes that diesel trucks are driving around in circles in Chilbolton at 8pm on Saturday and Sunday evening, the message is clear, wood burning is the cause.

Given that an article in the BMJ, evaluating the effects of wood smoke over a 13 year period, found that even a level of 44ug/m3 was associated with a 20 per cent and 28 per cent increase in cardiac and respiratory mortality during the winter months, we should be extremely worried by these astronomically high pollution figures, 79 per cent of which have been proven to come from wood smoke. DEFRA and European limits for PM2.5 are 25ug/m3.

Also, The New Scientist ran an article on 27th January 2017 which Mr Dibben may find helpful, the article is free to access if one registers. In the article, Professor Gary Fuller of Kings College and Kåre Press-Kristensen of the Danish Ecological Council show that not only does indoor air quality in homes using a wood burner become extremely polluted, worse than the most polluted streets, but that even the "cleanest" stoves are "hugely polluting" worse than 500 diesel trucks. Professor Fuller states: "The harm far exceeds traffic pollution. While people are exposed to high levels of traffic pollution mainly when travelling on busy streets, wood burning produces huge amounts of pollution where people live, when they are at home."

Lastly, regarding CO2, burning a tree puts 30 years worth of CO2 into the atmosphere that would otherwise be locked into the soil. The important point Mr Dibben fails to grasp is that had the tree not been burned that CO2 would not be released. New or old, it really doesn't matter, CO2 is being released that would not otherwise not have been released. Also, even if one was to grow a tree specifically for burning, and only burn it once it had absorbed all its CO2, the data now shows that the black carbon released by wood burning stoves (the very same microscopic PM2.5 that are so harmful to health) have a far more powerful greenhouse effect than CO2. Thus, to quote the climate scientist Piers Forster of the University of Leeds: "Burning logs is often touted as being carbon-neutral. In fact, numerous studies show that wood burning is not carbon-neutral, and can sometimes be worse than burning coal."

Rather than a response of gritted teeth, denial and derision, I would hope that Mr Dibben, and every concerned reader with a wood burning stove, will do their own research, read the medical articles, and listen to the experts. The irony is that many people buying stoves have done so in good faith because they believed the sales claims of the manufacturers — "efficient, clean, energy" — yet nothing could be further from the truth. People who have bought stoves based on the above claims should contact The Office of Fair Trading through their MP to complaint about breaches of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

As one commentator wrote: "The case against burning wood is every bit as clear as the case against smoking cigarettes, the sight of a glowing hearth should be about as comforting as the sight of a diesel engine idling in ones living room". The public are entitled to know the facts — wood burning stoves are bad for your children, they are bad for your neighbours and their children. Wintertime pollution (even in small villages) in the south is now as bad or worse than London, the single largest cause of this by a huge margin is wood burning stoves.

M Livesey
Corfe Mullen

http://www.blackmorevale.co.uk/letter-w ... story.html
• 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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