A recent study published in the journal Atmosphere shows that wood-burning stoves are harmful to air quality and can triple the level of particulate matter in homes. Researchers are proposing that these wood burners be sold with health warning labels. The study authors also recommend that the stoves are not used around children or elderly adults.
According to the researchers, the number of harmful particles in a room increases when the wood-burning stove’s door is opened for refueling. Thus, the level of pollution depends on the number of times the stove is refilled. People who load wood into the stove once are less exposed to the higher particulate matter levels as compared to those who refuel multiple times.
The research was carried out in Sheffield over a period of one month in early 2020. A total of 19 homes were surveyed, all of which use modern wood-burning stoves that are certified by the government as being “smoke-exempt appliances.” The research shows that these products are still risky due to the particles they supply to the indoor atmosphere.
“Our findings are a cause for concern,” said Rohit Chakraborty, lead author of the study. “It is recommended that people living with those particularly susceptible to air pollution, such as children, the elderly or vulnerable, avoid using wood-burning stoves. If people want to use them, we recommend minimizing the time the stove is open during lighting or refueling.”
The particles produced by such stoves have been found to be damaging to the human respiratory system. The particles can pass through the lungs into the blood system and can increase risk of heart and lung diseases.
Wood and coal burning jointly contribute about 40% of outdoor tiny particle pollution. Although there is no sufficient data on the potential pollution from wood used indoors, this study sheds light on how harmful this type of fuel can be.
In a bid to deal with particle and carbon pollution, the U.K. government is currently phasing out sales for wet wood, which produces more smoke. However, more efforts still have to be made, given that the research only surveyed homes that use dry wood.
Via The Guardian
Image via Meg Learner