- Montreal public heath: 9 hours woodheating = same pollution as a year's driving...
- ...but 9 hours woodheater pollution might be more harmful than a year's car pollution
- Armidale lung specialist: "Control of wood smoke air pollution is an important public health issue… We need to eliminate or minimise the need for heating by design ... wherever possible, substitution with other non-polluting technologies is the best."
- Health Canada: why do children in home with wood stoves appear to have more respiratory infections?
- Health Canada: do HEPA filters reduce indoor exposure?
- Write to Federal & State Ministers of Health & Environment about the 'Nationally Consistent' approach to woodheater management
"The Montreal public health department estimates that burning a wood stove for nine hours is the equivalent of driving a midsize car for a year, or about 18,000 kilometres of driving." Link
"the limited amount of studies that have been done so far that have directly compared smoke from fires with the same level of particulates and smoke from car exhaust, industry have all tended to show that the effects from the wood smoke are actually worse for lung conditions than a similar amount from, say, car exhausts" See http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/24/2226672.htm (repeat of a previous news item to indicate that the pollution from using a woodheater for 9 hours is potentially more harmful than that from driving a car 18,000 km).
"Control of wood smoke air pollution is an important public health issue… We need to eliminate or minimise the need for heating by design ... wherever possible, substitution with other non-polluting technologies is the best."
Armidale consultant physician and member of the Armidale Health and Wellbeing Committee, Dr Gary Baker, said there were negative health implications of wood smoke both at the source as an indoor air pollutant and as an outside air pollutant in Armidale.
"We do know that wood smoke contributes to increased incidence of respiratory disease, especially for those at greater risk including the elderly, children and people with chronic respiratory disease such as asthma," Dr Baker said. "There is also evidence that other systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease can be aggravated by exposure to air pollutants. " Dr Baker said the control of wood smoke air pollution was an important public health issue.
Wood has been a traditional and cheap source of fuel in Armidale. He said while there were positive financial, social, emotional and fitness benefits experienced during the gathering and use of wood, reducing the amount of wood smoke in the air needed to be the primary focus to reduce ill health and disease.
Dr Baker said the control of wood smoke air pollution could be done and required a multipronged approach.
"We need to eliminate or minimise the need for heating by design," Dr Baker said. "Wherever possible, substitution with other non-polluting technologies is the best. The development and use of devices with less wood smoke pollution is important and can lead to improved air quality."
(Full article (Armidale Independent) )
Dr. Zelikoff's preliminary findings using laboratory rats exposed to wood smoke at levels comparable to homes with wood smoke exposures, found evidence that wood smoke reduced the ability of the rats to get rid of bacterial infections. Dr. Zelikoff's early results suggest that wood smoke reduces the ability of immune system cells to effectively kill the bacteria. This has implications as to why children who live in homes with wood stoves appear to have more respiratory infections. Full story
Michael Brauer et al at UBC (with funding from the BC Centre for Disease Control) are conducting a study designed to investigate the penetration of outdoor airborne particles from forest fires and residential wood burning to indoor home environments, to determine the effectiveness of HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) air cleaners in reducing indoor particle levels (More info)
Write to Federal & State Ministers of Health & Environment about the 'Nationally Consistent' approach to woodheater management
"In Australia, there has been increasing criticism of the lack of at national standard…" The May 08 issue of Clean Air (Aus/NZ Clean Air Society journal) notes that (since Sept 05) woodheaters installed in urban areas in NZ must have emissions ratings less than 1.5 g/kg, compared to 4 g/kg in Australia. However, the National Environment and Heritage Council is now exploring policy options for national action on woodheating and possibly a woodsmoke NEPM.
Sadly, there is no mention of basing emissions limits on the costs and benefits of woodheating. Suppose a new lounge suite costing $2,500 gave off fumes that caused the premature death of a dozen elderly people. There'd be an outcry – "a human life is worth more than this amount of money!" So why do we accept woodheaters costing $2,500 that give off fumes causing the premature deaths of several hundred people and with estimated health costs of thousands of dollars per heater year? Why don't politicians introduce a moratorium on installing new woodheaters until the costs and benefits of woodheating have been compared, and an appropriate standard set? This would stimulate the speedy adoption of new technology (e.g. sensors to ensure fires burn at the correct temperature), reduce the substantial health costs of the sub-standard heaters being installed in people's homes, as well as the eventual cost of their removal.
Cleaner alternatives include pellet heaters, and masonry heaters (which burn for a couple of hours at high temperatures and gradually release heat for many hours after firing). If the health and environmental costs of woodsmoke pollution are considered – including visits to doctors for medication, hospital admissions, increased travel of neighbours who move house to avoid the smoke, and increased electricity consumption of neighbours using filtration systems – non or low-polluting alternatives are far less expensive than the woodheaters currently being installed.
Politicians are not well-informed about woodsmoke, and most would have no idea that in Christchurch, where about 25% of households use woodheaters, death rates in the smokiest residential areas are about 16% higher (and respiratory deaths 68% higher) than non-polluted areas. Write to State and Federal Ministers of Health and Environment, pointing out the unacceptable health costs of new heaters – estimated at thousands of dollars per heater per year – recommend that new standards should be set as soon as possible, requiring the health costs of new woodheaters to be no greater than the health costs of a new car, with a moratorium on installing new heaters until the health-based standard has been set and satisfied. See Our draft letter. NSW State ministers are Reba Meagher (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Verity Firth (email@example.com). Federal ministers are Nicola Roxon (Nicola.Roxon.MP@aph.gov.au) and Peter Garret (http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memfeedback.asp?id=HV4 ).
More news in a few months