I was considering a wood burning stove to help save fossil f

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Moderator: pm2.5mary

I was considering a wood burning stove to help save fossil f

Postby pm2.5mary » Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:20 pm

Here is an excerpt from an essay question sent by an interested conservationist in Europe. Hopefully he will join our forum. In the meantime I will attempt a quick reply below.
I am an active conservationist and was considering the wood burning stove to help save fossil fuels so viewed your site with both interest and surprise, I am still considering whether to buy the stove, but first I need to understand the overall level of risk.


Wallace Stegner, author, was a great and dedicated environmentalist. He picked up his tree droppings to heat his studio because it made a frugal kind of sense to him also, however none of this health information was available to him 35 years ago. His wife was chronically ill. Was there a connection? It is too late for that great dead author to ever know, but there is the opportunity for you to make use of all of this new research to protect your health and the health of your local community.

Excuse the late reply, we are so far behind on work for the improved website that is coming out that you should not take it personally. Your suspicion is unfounded, we put up scientific information that we can backup with reputable sources. As unpaid volunteers we strive to do the best that we can.
What is your policy on vehicle pollution and nuclear waste?
: Our policy is that pollution hurts people. We advocate clean renewable energy and conservation of energy.

I could write an essay to answer you and your questions deserve it. I will take the liberty of moving this to the forum and give you the 'quick' answer.

I have studied this subject for 20 years. Our website is an honest effort to share the science with the world. I have monitored fine particulate, so I have a knowledgeable sense of how solid fuels create enormous amounts of local fine particulate pollution, . In fact:# Air Monitoring in 1992 showed that the highest concentrations of soot in a neighborhood in California occurred in the evening when there is no traffic. It was all wood smoke, caused by fewer than 10% of the homes burning. Air monitoring in California in 1994-1999 shows that the smoke from burning of fewer than 10% of the population causes carcinogens to rise in non burning homes to 70% of the out door levels. Smoke is so small that air cleaners cannot pick it up - it is literally a gas. This air shed also had wood smoke as the second leading cause of dioxin ( Lawrence Livermore Labs, Michael Meltzer). Elsewhere in the US wood smoke is the third leading cause of dioxin. What does it cost this community in this air shed for the pollution created by fewer than 10% of the homes burning wood? 1.2 billion dollars in loss of life, lost work days, illness and hospitalizations. # Wood smoke costs the San Francisco Bay Area over $1 billion a year. One fire can cost $40 in increased medical care to victims. Few people burn at all. The new estimate is that fewer than 10% ever burn.
# "Simply banning of limiting wood fires could potentially save many lives at little or no cost." David Fairley, Bay Area Air Quality Management District So it is not just a question of a single person picking up his free tree droppings and having at it. The 'better' the wood stove (fewer fine particulates) the more carcinogenic the emissions are. Money spent on a high end wood stove would be better spent on conservation by upgrading window technology, the house envelope - insulation, etc.

So what is the comparison of wood smoke to vehicles? It depends! Fine particulate kills people. Diesel trucks are more carcinogenic than wood smoke, wood stove smoke is more carcinogenic than a fireplace, wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco, so to be honest it all depends.

Morbidity and Mortality from Air Pollution

"As many as 60,000 Americans die each year from particulate pollution." (Schwartz, 1991)

Air Pollution Increases Death Risk In People With Certain Diseases, Source: American Thoracic Society, Posted: May 22, 2006 The study found that for an increase of 10 micrograms/per cubic meter of PM10 over two years, the risk of dying was increased by:
* 32% for people with diabetes
* 28% for people with COPD
* 27% in people with congestive heart failure
* 22% for people with inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

"The study significantly strengthens evidence that breathing in particulate matter is associated with dying sooner," said researcher Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Air pollution is responsible for 310,000 premature deaths in Europe each year, research suggests. Story from BBC NEWS: 2/21/05

Ambient levels of PM10 mg/m3 Increase in human death Hospitalization for heart disease Hospitalization for Pneumonia and COPD
10 0.5 1% 2%
50 2.5% 5% 10%
65 4% 6.5% 13%
100 5% 10% 20%
150 7.5% 15% 30%
Based on Information from The Health Effects Institute, 2000, BI/Clean Air Revival, Inc. 2001

The Health Effects Institute Review of studies of ambient PM10 in 90 cities in the year 2000, show a consistent one half percent increase in mortality for every change of 10 micrograms/meter cubed measured for 24 hours before the day of death. (We do not have similar data for PM 2.5m/m3 because there was no consistent monitoring data available in year 2001 for the researchers to analyze.) The same rise in particulate levels cause increased hospitalization for heart disease by one percent. Hospitalization for pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increased two percent (HEI, 2001). (The current 24 hour Federal Standard PM Standard is 65 micrograms per cubic meter.)

"Thousands of deaths every year in the United States are associated with particulate air pollution, even at levels well below that which the EPA considers safe. The consistency and coherence of the evidence is remarkable: many investigators in different locations, using different methods, at different times and under different conditions, are finding particulate air pollution to be associated with increasing symptoms, increased incidence and prevalence of illnesses, increased absence from school and work, decreased lung function, increased emergency department visits, increased hospital admissions, and increased mortality (Dickey, 1996)."

"To summarize bluntly, any increase in fine particles in the atmosphere kills someone. The victims remain nameless, but they have been deprived of life all the same." (Montague, 1994)

"For the San Francisco Bay Area, this risk (from low levels of fine particulate pollution) is much greater than the risks from any toxic identified so far." "The entire excess death rate in the San Francisco Bay Area occurs during the wood burning months (Fairley 1990).The Relationship of Daily Mortality to Suspended Particulates."

AVERAGED EMISSIONS OF FINE PARTICLES IN GRAMS PER HOUR: Mary J. Rozenberg, Burning Issues/ Clean Air Revival, Inc., 12/1/98
Fireplace Soft wood=59 grams/hour.
Fireplace Hard wood=30 grams/hour
1993 and older Diesel truck & bus=70 grams/hr
1994 and newer 14 ton Diesel truck=36 grams/hour
Single simulated (synthetic) log= 8 grams to 40 grams/per log
Non Certified Stove4 = 15.6 grams/hour
Certified Stove4 = 8.2 grams/hour (or 196.8 grams/day)
Pellet Stove 2.4 grams/hour (or 57.6 grams/day)
Auto-catalytic=.66 grams/hour (Driving 3 hours =1.92 grams)
Auto non catalytic=3.5 grams/hour
Auto smoking =6 grams/hour
(30)Cigarette =.4 grams/hour
Oil furnace=.02 grams/hour
Gas or Propane Furnace=.001grams/hour


WB puts out massive amounts of fine particulate: fewer than 10% of a population burning wood create 90% of the fine particulate on winter evenings in many areas.


Lynn M. Hildemann, Gregory R. Markowski, & Glen R. Cass, "Chemical Composition of Emissions from Urban Sources of Fine Organic Aerosol", American Chemical Society, Environmental Science Technology, Vol.25, No.4, 1991, 1991

Joellen Lewtas, Roy B. Zweidinger, Larry Cupitt, U.S. EPA, Research Triangle Park, NC, "Mutagenicity, Tumorigenicity and Estimation of Cancer Risk from Ambient Aerosol and Source Emissions from Woodsmoke and Motor Vehicles", Air and Waste Management Association, 84th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, Vancouver, BC, June 16-21, 1991

William A. Pryor, "Biological Effects of Cigarette Smoke, Wood smoke, and the Smoke From Plastics: The Use of Electron Spin Resonance", Free Radical Biology & Medicine, Vol. 13, pp.659-676,, 1992: Review article; reactions in the chem smoke itself. He states wood is 40 times worse than cigarettes.

If you want to listen to the siren song of burning wood the stove salespeople will be happy to sing a tale of miraculous pollution free solid fuel combustion in their special 'rocket science stove' and they get paid to do it. It is an industry of home incinerators.
"Particulate pollution is the most important contaminant in our air. ...we know that when particle levels go up, people die. " (Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health, E Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2002)
Find more at http://burningissues.org
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