Log burner warning as owners told to DITCH home staple as new evidence comes to light

New data from a community-led study in Bristol found that log burners continually exceeded the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) daily guidelines for air pollution over a six-month period.

The study, which was carried out between November and March, found 11 exceedances of the WHO’s ultra-fine particulate pollution recommendations.

Sensors were placed in houses around Ashley Ward where fuel-burning appliances were installed and participants were given the technology to monitor the pollution emitted.

Burning wood or coal pollutes the air inside and outside homes, creating tiny particulates called PM2.5 and PM10 – which can also cause heart and lung problems.

The 10 sensors in the study found that the average log burner emitted 10 PM10 and 12 PM2.5.

Bristol is covered by the Clean Air Act 1993, which means it is illegal to release smoke from chimneys unless burning an authorised fuel or using an exempt appliance.

Steve Crawshaw, who managed the project, said: “The evidence is that virtually any level of PM 2.5 is harmful – there is no threshold below which you don’t see health effects.”

Bristol City Council hopes the findings will raise awareness of the harmful effects of wood smoke as 300 people die in the city every year from poor air quality.

However, the rising energy prices are believed to be driving some struggling families to use log burners over radiators.

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Tim Wye, a local green councillor, said: “Ashley is a split ward with a lot of people living on incredibly low incomes.

“For some, especially now, burning solid fuels is sometimes the only option to stay warm – but what I hope the study shows is that those who can afford it should really think twice about using solid fuels in an urban environment.

“Current research suggests the air pollution impact of wood-burning is really significant, and as with the air pollution emitted by vehicles, there is no ‘safe level’ for humans.”

Similarly, other recent research has shown that wood-burning stoves in urban areas are responsible for almost half of people’s exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals found in air pollution particles.

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Even wood-burning stoves meeting the new ‘ecodesign’ standard still emit 750 times more tiny particles than a modern HGV truck, another study found.

Log burners also triple the level of harmful pollution inside homes, according to some scientists.

Meanwhile, air pollution campaign group Mums for Lungs has called on the Government to ban all wood-burning stoves by 2027.

The group, who describe themselves as parents seriously concerned about the dangerous impact of air pollution on their children, said in a six-year period local councils only issued 19 penalities for wood smoke despite receiving more than 19,000 complaints.

The particulate matter associated with wood smoke has been linked to health problems such as asthma, heart attacks and lung cancer.

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