Friday, January 20, 2012

Does burning wood in stoves create pollution and health issues?

Many people across the world use wood-burning stoves for heating purposes. Wood smoke issue has over the years become a rather controversial topic because there are some who believe that wood smoke creates air pollution and has harmful health effects while others say that wood smoke has almost negligible impact on human health.

In order to put more light on this topic Norwegian scientist Anette Kocbach Bølling from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has intensely studied the influence of wood-burning on pollution and the related health effects.

The conclusion of this study was rather straightforward: the more complete combustion the less air pollution and negative health effects there is.

The complete combustion of wood material refers to condition where all the organic material in the wood is broken down in the combustion chamber. All that remain during complete combustion of wood material is ash that will be emitted through chimney. Ash is mostly composed of different water-soluble salt particles like potassium sulfate that dissolve very quickly in our organisms and can therefore be easily and quickly removed from our lungs. Also, the amount of particles emitted from complete combustion is relatively small which is the main reason behind their quick removal.

Poor combustion process on the other hand can not only cause serious air pollution issue but also adverse health effects. Some unburned organic substances can even cause cancer.

This basically means that improving combustion conditions leads to fewer emissions and with it very limited influence on human health. Using newer stoves with improved combustion capabilities therefore not only ensures less pollution but also less negative health effects and a healthier life.

Particulate matter (one of major air pollutants) from stoves can be therefore significantly reduced with newer clean-burning stoves.

1 comment:

  1. The United Nations Environment Program now recommends phasing out wood-burning stoves in industrialized countries, to help slow global warming. A 2011 UNEP report shows how wood burning has become a major source of black carbon in North America and Europe.