How To Reduce Pollution From Your Wood Burning Stove

A recent study found that home wood burning is actually having a detrimental effect on air quality in towns & cities. 

Stafford homeowners with wood burners in their living rooms, bedrooms and elsewhere in the house may soon find that restrictions on what they burn are implemented, after a new study revealed that home wood burning is actually having a detrimental effect on air quality in towns and cities around the world.

The researchers found that that when 1,110 old wood stoves in the town of Libby in Montana were replaced between 2005 and 2007, wintertime particle pollution fell by 28 per cent and children were found to be less wheezy as well. Not only that but in the San Joaquin Valley in 2012, when wood burning was banned on 100 of the most polluted days, between seven and 11 per cent fewer older people went to hospital with different kinds of heart problems, the Guardian reports.

Because the smoke that comes from fireplaces and wood stoves has lots of harmful and possibly carcinogenic chemical compounds contained within, you’d be wise to try and reduce the amount of smoke that your stove or fire produces.

You should first of all make sure that your wood heater has been correctly installed and that it’s working properly. Good maintenance throughout the year is a must so you can spot any issues that might be creating unnecessary amounts of smoke in good time.

It would also be wise to read the operation manual properly from start to finish before you get your fire going so you know exactly how to  work it and how to deal with any potential problems. When starting a fire, only use dry, seasoned and untreated wood and make sure you spark a hot fire quickly using lots of paper and small kindling. Set your air controls high enough that the fire burns brightly and never put too much wood inside, or you could soon find yourself enswathed in clouds of nasty smoke. Don’t leave the stove to smoulder overnight, as this will only serve to starve the fire of oxygen – which will mean more smoke and therefore more air pollution. Every now and again, pop outside so you can have a look at the chimney to see how much smoke is coming out of the top.

Back in September last year, mayor of London Sadiq Khan wrote to environment secretary Michael Gove to ask for further powers to improve air quality in the city, including steps to tackle solid-fuel burning. This could well mean that wood burning stoves are in fact banned in some parts of the capital to help tackle air pollution. 

He said at the time: “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles. With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and such significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer.”

A Defra representative confirmed that the organisation will be addressing all sources of air pollution in the Clean Air Strategy.


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