Asthma Foundation NSW Calls For Action on Wood Heaters

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Asthma Foundation NSW Calls For Action on Wood Heaters

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:59 pm

Asthma Foundation NSW Calls For Action on Wood Heaters

30 June 2014

As Standards Australia prepares to deliver a new wood heaters standard for the first time in 20 years, Asthma Foundation NSW is urging the peak standards body to take a tough stance on the largest “hidden” source of air pollution in Australia.

Wood heaters produce more pollution than either tobacco or motor vehicles during the winter months. In colder areas of NSW the average new wood heater emits as much PM2.5 pollution as 370 new diesel SUVs each travelling 20,000 km per year.

According to NSW EPA the estimated 83,000 wood heaters in Sydney produce up to 73 per cent of air pollution in the winter months, which is more than three times as much as motor vehicles. In regional centres, such as Armidale, it accounts for upwards of 80 per cent of pollution and has been over 90 per cent in places like Launceston in Tasmania.

“The science is unequivocal. Wood smoke contains noxious gases, such as Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide, organic compounds and fine particles (PM2.5 and smaller) that go deep into the lungs and can cause heart, respiratory problems like asthma and cancer. In scientific testing wood smoke has been shown to be more hazardous than cigarette smoke,” said Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Foundation NSW.

“In 2006, the then NSW Chief Health Officer Denise Robinson told a public inquiry at NSW Parliament House that between 600 and 1400 deaths every year could be attributed at least partly to air pollution, which is more than motor vehicle accidents.”

“In the midst of a national conversation about the cost of healthcare, we are calling on Standards Australia to impose a wood stoves emissions standard that brings us into line with the rest of the world.”

“Australia’s current standard of 4 grams of particulate matter per kilogram burned (4g/kg) and no efficiency standard is way behind New Zealand who moved to 1.5g/kg and a 65 per cent efficiency standard a decade ago.”

The Standards Australia review comes in the wake of a damning report by the NSW Government’s own Environmental Protection Agency, “Options for wood smoke control in NSW”. It estimates wood heaters alone will add an additional $8 billion to the NSW health budget in the next 20 years – $22,000 for every one of the 360,000 wood heaters in the state.

Asthma Foundation NSW is presently urging the Federal Government to pass new regulations to retire older models, limit the emissions from new models and provide better education for those using wood burning stoves.

"Australia has the toughest tobacco laws in the world and imposed strict new standards on new SUV vehicles (adding $980 to the cost of a new vehicle), which has reduced deadly PM2.5 emissions, dubbed the "new asbestos," by more than 99 per cent since 1989," said Ms Goldman.

“The NSW Government has passed responsibility for this urgent and pressing health concern to ill-equipped local councils when it has a number of cost neutral options that could dramatically reduce winter pollution levels and drastically reduce the health bill.”

In previous submissions to the NSW Government on the wood heaters issue, Asthma Foundation made three key recommendations that together would reduce wood smoke health costs by 75%:

Removal of existing heaters that do not meet a health-based standard when houses are offered for sale.
Not allowing the installation of new heaters that do not meet a health-based standard and a tax on all wood heaters that do not meet current standards.
Licensing fees to cover the cost of wood smoke-reduction programs with assistance for people whose health or lifestyle has been affected by wood smoke.

Standards Australia are awaiting final approvals before making an announcement that will be watched closely by Asthma Foundation NSW and other health groups.

“We were disappointed with the Standards Australia terms of reference as the review was limited to technical considerations, rather than health, which is surely the key issue at hand,” said Ms Goldman.

“Dependent on the report we will consider requesting a further review of the standard from a health perspective, with appropriate health and environmental representatives on the committee.”

Media Contact:

Nick Bleszynski (0403) 931 291

source ... aters.aspx

Wood fire heaters: the hidden killer
30 Jun, 2014 04:19 PM
The air pollution from wood fire heaters now poses a bigger immediate health danger to Sydneysiders than cars or cigarettes.

Health experts say the growth in wood fire heaters and the resulting smoke accounts for more than 60 per cent of Sydney's winter air pollution, triggering complications among asthmatics, emphysema and chronic bronchitis sufferers.

In July, an estimated 83,000 heaters are responsible for up to 75 per cent of fine particle pollution in Sydney's basin, according to the NSW EPA. Known as the new asbestos, fine particulate matter is a key component of smog, which can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Standards Australia is reviewing new technical standards for wood fire heaters for this country and New Zealand. However, critics say the settings for emissions - a maximum 2.5 grams for every kilo of wood burnt - are 20 years behind best practice countries and will do little to stop fine particle pollution.

Asthma Foundation CEO Michele Goldman said Australians should be alarmed by the dangers posed by wood fire heaters. She said the small particles produced were the greatest concern because they travelled into people's airways, some even reaching the alveolus, with direct access to the bloodstream.

"Australia has the toughest tobacco laws in the world and imposed strict new standards on new SUV vehicles (adding $980 to the cost of a new vehicle), which has reduced deadly PM2.5 emissions, dubbed the "new asbestos," by more than 99per cent since 1989," she said. "Yet, just one wood heater produces emissions more toxic than cigarette smoke and generates as much PM2.5 each year as 370 SUVs each driving 20,000 kms."

Ms Goldman said the Standards Australia committee had so far had failed to take into consideration the concerns of health groups . She said the committee was dominated by the wood fire heating sector and industry groups with no medical experts among its membership.

Australian Lung Foundation spokesman Dr James Markos said wood fire heaters should be banned from urban areas. He said real-life emissions from new wood-heaters had little relationship to measurements from a perfectly operated test model under laboratory conditions.

"There is no safe level of wood fire smoke in urban areas," he said.

In 2006, the then Chief health officer Denise Robinson told a public inquiry at NSW Parliament House that between 600 and 1400 deaths every year could be attributed at least partly to Sydney's foul air. Pollution was also a factor in about 3 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in the Sydney basin.

For Mellisa Love, the advent of winter is a dangerous time for her five children. Two sons Ethan Jones, 6, and Braxton Jones, 2, are diagnosed asthmatics. After 4pm, none of her children are allowed outside their Blacktown home because of the hanging wood fire smoke, potential triggers for a major asthmatic attack.

The early morning starts for weekend sport pose a unique threat.

"On a Saturday morning, 20 minutes before his game, Ethan has to take a hit from his Ventolin," she said. "In July you get those hazy mornings, and the Ventolin takes the edge off the smoke.

"I don't know what else to do, I can't stop him from playing with his mates."

A spokesman for Standards Australia said the review of wood fire heaters was done to reduce the amount of allowable emissions of particulate matter to benefit public health. He said the technical committee representatives included a number of regulatory agencies, the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand, industry and from the Consumers Federation of Australia to ensure balance.

The review, which had started in November 2012, was near completion and only awaited New Zealand ministerial approval prior to publication. It is expected relevant authorities would mandate the new requirements one year from publication.


Don't let your heater smoulder overnight - keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.

Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater, at least dried for eight months.

When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling.Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them.

Don't cram the firebox.Fire should only smoke when first lit and when adding extra fuel.

Open air controls fully for five minutes before and 20 minutes after reloading.

source ... zsop8.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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