A newer stove might put out less pollution than an older stove, but it still puts out almost 600 times more fine particulates than gas.
And that is assuming it is perfectly run.
Are new wood stoves a solution?
Many argue that to reduce pollution we just need to ensure people are using newer stoves, and burning only dry wood.
There are a number of reasons new stoves are not an effective solution to pollution.
New certified stoves:
- still pollute far more than other source of heat, producing significant amounts of harmful second hand smoke, indoors and out.
- can still be used to burn illegal materials (wet wood, garbage, construction waste, plastics) which is very difficult to prevent;
- require ongoing investment of taxpayer dollars in education on burning, and enforcement when people burn poorly;
- usually emit far more pollution than what they are rated for (see studies);
- deteriorate with time so will produce more emissions with age;
- pollute more than many diesel vehicles and would fail to meet any vehicle emission standards even when operated appropriately. Yet we allow them to idle for hours on end right where people live.
Other heating healthier and predictable
Other sources of heat are healthier for the neighbours, and do not require ongoing investment of taxpayer dollars once.
Pollution levels from other heating sources do not depend on how it is used. Yet the same wood stove can produce very different levels of pollution house to house.
For more on why new stoves are not a solution, read "Rebates for new wood stoves: Not an effective solution to pollution". Also visit Doctor's and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution's page on Wood Stove Changeouts.
Worse than many diesel vehicles
Even a perfectly run, certified stove, puts out more fine particulates than 18 diesel cars (at minimum!).
No wood stove could meet a vehicle emissions standard, so why would we want to let them idle in one place where we live?
Poorer Indoor air quality
Homes with wood stoves are known to have poorer indoor air quality. Replacing wood heating with another energy source will improve both outdoor and indoor air quality.
For example a Swedish study found that wood-burning homes had 3-5 times higher levels of several hazardous Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and roughly 4 times the total PAH cancer potency, compared to non-wood-burning homes. The median indoor level benzo(a)pyrene was found to be 500% higher than the Swedish health guideline, which was also exceeded outdoors on all days.
Families with children should be particularly concerned about the long-term impacts of increased levels of particulate matter level and other toxins in homes with stoves.
Learn more about how to switch to cleaner heat.