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Which pubs, bars, restaurants and take-aways do you avoid?
messageDo you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 04, 02:53PM

Following on from the CPZ discussions about cleaner air and school streets I wanted to start a discussion on woodburners. A little like the governments previous position on diesel cars, I recall when we were renovating our house a few years ago that woodburners were considered to be a cheap and environmentally friendly way of heating your home using a carbon neutral source of heat.

Again, like diesel engines, it turns out that isnít the whole story at all. All woodburners / stoves, even the cleanest defra approved versions produce PM2.5 or particulate matter.

Particulate matter is widely known to be detrimental to health. Studies are now seeing links between high levels of PM2.5 and not only respiratory disease, asthma and cancers, but also behavioural and developmental disorders in children, and dementia.

The closer to the source you are, the more particulate matter you inhale Ė therefore having a burner in your home and therefore by definition emitting particulate matter means that you and your immediate neighbours are being exposed to harmful particulate matter. This includes your children. Recent research from Kings College hospital research has shown that pollution is actually changing the way childrenís lungs develop (spoiler alert, itís not in a good way!).

Burners have become a lifestyle option for many, cosy on a winterís evening but not a primary means of heating our homes. Whilst I understand why theyíre appealing from that perspective, I just feel that the future health cost of this lifestyle is too much for our population at large and specifically our children when gas fires / central heating does not produce the same intensity of PM2.5.

This isn't intended to detract from any other initiative - woodburners are one element of a complex mix of pollution issues for our city and finding ways to reduce reliance on road traffic and removing harmful diesel engines is also key, but the amount of time that woodburners are used for and the concentration of them in this area makes it a particularly relevant issue for East Dulwich.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by nxjen February 04, 04:33PM


messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 04, 04:38PM

I know that thread exists, but it got caught up in the open fire burning coal thing - and I wanted something that dealt only with woodburners.

I live on a street where as soon as it gets colder many residents (understandably) fires up the woodburners and I wanted to find a way to get the message out that they are really detrimental to health as I don't think that its commonly known as there is a misconception that stoves / burners are somehow eco.

As I noted above, we almost got one when we renovated - only the pain of storing the wood put us off but it certainly wasn't concern for the developing brains and lungs of my children!

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by edcam February 04, 05:13PM

We don't need another thread for this.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by pinkladybird February 04, 10:34PM

I am the OP of the other thread and goldilocks is right, it did get a bit muddled.

It was mainly about open fires - illegal wood burning - a different scenario to people doing the 'right' thing and using a wood burner.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by cohen22 February 04, 10:50PM

More hot air from you than a wood burner!! Come on baby light my fire!!

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 05, 01:25PM

Think i'm going to assume you're drunk...

I'd love for this to be something we could laugh off but its not just a problem that will go away - wood burners are literally killing us and our area seems to have more than average which means the effects are more severe.

I started the thread as I was genuinely curious as to whether people were aware of how much pollution is given off by even the newest 'greenest' burners as I don't think this information is widely known and the stove sellers have been pushing the 'green source of fuel' agenda for year. Could be that people know and don't care - but i'm struggling to reconcile that with the effect on people's children.

Incidentally, even the claims re carbon neutrality are maybe not as clear cut as it might seem as the carbon effect of burning wood is offset by planting more trees - but assumes that more are always planted and doesn't allow for the timing of the reabsorption of this carbon.

cohen22 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> More hot air from you than a wood burner!! Come on
> baby light my fire!!

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by evildrwallace February 05, 08:40PM

I'd have to agree with the OP Goldilocks on this one. We actually installed a woodburner some years ago as we have quite a bit of wood from coppicing a large tree in our garden and pruning a couple of others - this meant we rarely had to buy wood at all. But this winter we have pretty much decided not to use the stove any longer as it really can't be justified given the pollution we now know it causes.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by cohen22 February 05, 10:52PM

I can guarantee that you drive a car and it's a diesel!!

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Brulysses February 06, 09:40AM

I cycle up Camberwell Grove after work and the stench of woodsmoke is very strong, and if there is no breeze it just hangs in the road and catches the back of your throat. I think woodburners are polluting and I would encourage people not to use them unless absolutely necessary.

I don't drive a car and if I did it certainly wouldn't be a diesel.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by edcam February 06, 10:28AM

That's the sort of wood that is the problem though. People should only be using kiln dried wood.

evildrwallace Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'd have to agree with the OP Goldilocks on this
> one. We actually installed a woodburner some years
> ago as we have quite a bit of wood from coppicing
> a large tree in our garden and pruning a couple of
> others - this meant we rarely had to buy wood at
> all. But this winter we have pretty much decided
> not to use the stove any longer as it really can't
> be justified given the pollution we now know it
> causes.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 06, 11:25AM

Its true that not dried out properly (or too dry) wood produces more particulate matter and therefore exacerbates the issue - as does burning things like floorboards / pallets etc, ie I agree its much worse.

However, I think that the important thing to realise is that even kiln dried wood still produces levels of particulate matter that in aggregate (ie because of the sheer number of wood burners within an area) is dangerous.

Burning wood produces matter that is carcinogenic and the wider effects of particulate matter are only just being understood. Even the most efficient burners still produce PM2.5 - yes its less than the older versions, but less rather than 'none'. In addition, efficiency diminishes over time.

My rationale for starting this thread was to understand whether people were aware of this? - as I believe that (quite understandably) unless you look for this information, the marketing slant from the stove companies is much easier to find and widespread and that there is a perception that if people have a certified burner and burn seasoned logs that it isn't a problem.

As I noted upthread - the issues with stove pollution is that it effects those closest to it the most - so would really like people to consider the effects on them and their children of burning wood in any format



edcam Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That's the sort of wood that is the problem
> though. People should only be using kiln dried
> wood.
>
> evildrwallace Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I'd have to agree with the OP Goldilocks on
> this
> > one. We actually installed a woodburner some
> years
> > ago as we have quite a bit of wood from
> coppicing
> > a large tree in our garden and pruning a couple
> of
> > others - this meant we rarely had to buy wood
> at
> > all. But this winter we have pretty much
> decided
> > not to use the stove any longer as it really
> can't
> > be justified given the pollution we now know it
> > causes.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by pinkladybird February 06, 12:31PM

It's not the sort of wood that is the problem.

The particulate emission figures using dry wood are shocking.
The Air Quality Expert Group which advises Defra calculated the particulate emissions in terms of car fumes to make it easier to visualise them. [www.iapsc.org.uk] (slide 17):

1 Defra approved stove = 33 modern diesel cars

The newest cleanest Ecodesign stove = 18 modern diesel cars

So using a Defra approved stove for 1 hour is roughly like adding 33 idling cars to your road for 1 hour.

This is using DRY wood (<20% moisture) and under ideal conditions. 5kW stove. 80% efficiency. Minute per minute.
Some pollution scientists are trying to get this info into the media, not sure that most people buying stoves are aware of this though.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Sue February 06, 05:18PM

Shouldn't this thread be in the lounge?

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by colville09 February 06, 05:22PM

I think so too...

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 06, 05:41PM

Why should it be in the lounge?

Genuine question?

Thought this section was for Ďissues affecting east dulwichí. I think that woodburner usage in East Dulwich is an issue for the local area. Itís not unique to here but it does affect us all and on an individual and collective level rather than theoretically

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by colville09 February 06, 06:04PM

Because it seems part of a much wider conversation about what activities are acceptable in an urban (be that ED or not) environment. Are garden bonfires acceptable in a built up area, for example.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 06, 09:36PM

I donít agree, but not agreeing is a reasonable response on a discussion forum. Iím not looking to stop your posts because of it.


But in answer to your question re bonfires in ED (which Iím aware youíre not actually asking) legally you can have them, but from a social responsibility perspective there would be an argument for not doing so (much like woodburners). I think I was clear though that Iím not suggesting wood burning is illegal, more trying to understand if the now well documented if not well publicised harm caused by it even in efficient burners is understood.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by fruityloops February 07, 01:11PM

I like the smell...

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by rendelharris February 07, 05:34PM

There's a feature on the statistics on woodburners on the always-excellent More or Less on Radio 4 tomorrow at 4.30PM, for those interested.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Sue February 08, 12:05AM

goldilocks Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why should it be in the lounge?
>
> Genuine question?
>
> Thought this section was for Ďissues affecting
> east dulwichí. I think that woodburner usage in
> East Dulwich is an issue for the local area. Itís
> not unique to here but it does affect us all and
> on an individual and collective level rather than
> theoretically


Most threads in the lounge are not unique to East Dulwich.

That's why they are there.

This section is supposed to be for issues solely relating to East Dulwich.

But hey I'm not the forum police big grin

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by jonnywalker February 08, 08:42AM

Classic ED conversation! Is this a parody thread?

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Beej February 09, 12:05AM

fruityloops Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I like the smell...

ME TOO! Also I have one; a wood burner not a smell, but even if I didnít Iíd still like the smell, although I should probably preface that with shameless admission that I also like the smell of petrol fumes, unleaded not diesel mind 🙌🏽

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by DovertheRoad February 09, 06:46AM

The facts and statistics now available show Goldilocks is correct I'm afraid folks. And no amount of head in the sand will change that. I'm not overly sensitive but even I have noticed air quality change for the worse over the past 5 years. Especially on days with poor dispersion. There have sadly also been some deaths, some in young people attributed to London's worsening pollution problem. We had several open fires (using dried wood etc) but have stopped using them. Having kids has also changed our thinking. There are healthier places to raise a family. It's time to #stopthesmoke



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was february 09, 06:48am by DovertheRoad.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Robert Poste's Child February 10, 08:02PM

Radio 4's More or Less tonight is looking at the stats on this.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 11, 10:59AM

Interesting programme. It seems that the headline figures of percentage PM2.5 as a percentage of overall pollution could be overstated (eg it might not be as high as 30%) - which is interesting, but what is clear is that all burners still do release PM2.5 and that this is harmful to everyone but even more so to those with respiritory diseases.

I've seen facebook ads recently where the headline has been around new legislation coming in and therefore upgrading stoves / burners to 'burn wood safely'. I think that the key thing is that if you're thinking of upgrading your burner, its possible to burn wood in a 'less polluting way', but not 'safely' in terms of the pollutants in your home and directly around it.

One final point i noticed was that in terms of upgrading stoves, you can also get gas stoves as a replacement. They look the same but don't burn wood - also has the added advantage of not needing to store wood somewhere/ get it delivered etc!

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Nigello February 11, 05:50PM

A large sack of fuel was outside the pub on FH Road - Telegraph? - in the rain and damp for at least one night. If they burn it without drying it there will be more smoke than usual.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by Northeastview February 11, 09:39PM

I had wondered about this due to some studying Iíve been doing recently whereby I was reading about the severe risks to health from cooking on indoor fires around the world: [www.who.int]

I did ask my lecturer weather the same risks would apply to stoves in the UK and he thought it likely, though the exposure frequency etc would be different.

messageRe: Do you have a woodburner?
Posted by goldilocks February 11, 09:55PM

I think that there is a distinction in that the emissions from the most modern approved burners are much much lower than open fires, and as you note, the frequency would be much less.

That said, the whole point of me posting here was to try to dispel the myth that having a woodburner is a wholesome family fun way to heat your home. Unless you're living 'off grid' there really is no need for burners, and realistically they are used as an activity as well as a source of heat. All woodburners, including those sold as 'safe' or 'clean' produce pm2.5 and the effect on people is greater the closer to the source. In addition, the headline emission rates are only achieved where wood is stored in perfect conditions and burned at the right moisture levels. In reality this is not always the case.

Its not what anyone wants to hear as people have spent a lot on them and like having them, but ALL woodburning produces carcinogenic matter. There are alternatives - gas fires or stoves although the best heating option is to insulate well and use central heating.


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