CleanAir urges Londoners to stop burning wood!

Picture courtesy of Thomas Vitali via Pexels

Did you know that a woodburning stove can be 18 times more polluting per hour than driving a diesel car?

Or that wood burning is believed to be the single biggest contributor to particular pollution – making up a third of particle pollution in London each year?

CleanAir4Schools is urging residents to drastically lower their use of woodburning stoves and open fires to just at Christmas, when pollution levels tend to be lower, or ideally to stop using them altogether.

Why not find other ways of keeping warm and to redesign the fireplace space (by filling it with air-cleaning plants, lamps or flowers).

 

Air Quality Consultant Lucy Harbor, said: “16% of London’s homes have woodburning stoves or open fires. Up until a few years ago, if householders used sustainable wood, stoves were thought of as beneficial to the environment because wood is close to carbon neutral and an economic driver for keeping forests healthy.

“So, it will be shocking and extremely frustrating for thousands of Londoners to now learn just how harmful these can be.  When you burn wood, it releases PM2.5, which is the pollutant that has the greatest impact on human health. Both short and long-term exposure can increase the risk of early death and increased hospital admissions, and children who are exposed to it are at greater risk of having reduced lung function and developing asthma.

 

 

 

“Perhaps we need to think of other ways to feel cosy and warm in winter and re-imagine the fireplace as having a new function in our homes.”

Levels of particulate matter in London exceed the World Health Organisation’s limit, and in 95% of the city, those levels are exceeded by over 50%.

THE UK Government plans to ensure only the cleanest stoves are sold by 2022 and the sale of wet wood, which is much more polluting than seasoned wood, will be restricted. The Mayor of London wants to ban domestic wood burning by 2025.

Dr Gary Fuller of Kings College London said “We estimate that wood-burning in London emits five times more particle pollution than was saved by bringing in the first two phases of London’s low emission zone. We have to ask if home use of solid fuels has a part in the city of the 21st century.”

Key facts about woodburning in London

The only way to stop polluting from wood-burning is not to do it. If you continue using a wood-burner, what you burn and how you burn it can make a big difference to pollution levels.

  • An EcoDesign Ready stove can emit up to 80 per cent less pollution than a normal Defra approved appliance. An up to date list of these stoves can be found on the HETAS website. 

  • Open fires must use smokeless fuels. 

  • The type of fuel you burn can make a difference.

    • Dry wood is best – look for the Ready to Burn standard woods.

    • Best woods: ash, beech and oak – they burn slow and long.

    • Briquettes made from waste wood – they are cheaper, deliver more heat and are less polluting.

    • Wet or damp wood can increase pollution as it creates more smoke.

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cleanair4schools@gmail.com

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