A recent article in the Guardian, “Is your wood stove choking you? How indoor fires are suffocating cities” highlights how the push to move to supposed ‘renewable’ energy, has meant that gains in other areas to reduce pollution are being negated by the increase in wood smoke.
As the article notes, the increasing popularity of wood fires, scientists warn, threatens to erase any progress big cities might achieve in reducing pollution from traffic.
Wood smoke also carries more carcinogens than diesel or petrol exhaust.
Additionally, the smoke is very toxic. According to Leigh Crilley, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Birmingham, wood smoke also carries more carcinogens than diesel or petrol exhaust.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is calling for an overall ban on the use of wood, coal and other solid fuels, to deal with the high levels of fine particulates attributable to wood heating. However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would not ban domestic burning, or prevent the installation of wood stoves. It said it might take action on the use of insufficiently dried or seasoned wood, which produces more smoke, and was considering granting local authorities new powers to deal with persistent smoke offences.
While the Mayor’s approach would guarantee a huge reduction in harmful particulates in London, DEFRA’s kid glove proposal is unlikely to see notable difference, particularly if more and more people continue to install wood stoves. And even good stoves burning dry wood produce more fine particulates than a diesel truck so pollution levels will still increase.
Additionally, DEFRA’s timid “solution” will transfer the burden for the problem to local governments who will be the ones getting out and enforcing any regulations about dry or seasoned wood, and onto the neighbours who often need to complain about being smoked out before anything might be done.