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Over the years, there has been an increase in the use of wood burning stoves and open fires. Wood burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of the pollutant particulate matter (PM2.5). The emissions produced from this source, particularly the tiny particles PM2.5, have a negative effect on the air quality causing the air to be harmful to health.
When wood is burned, it creates smoke that releases harmful particulate matter into the air we breathe. Particulate matter is dangerous because its small particle size means it can get into our lungs and even pass into our bloodstream The range of health impacts include breathing difficulties, such as asthma attacks, and contributes to other health conditions including heart disease and stroke.
This pollutant has been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most harmful to human health because it can reach every organ in the body.
Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic wood burning increased by 35 per cent between 2010 and 2020, to represent 17 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions in 2020.This compares with road transport contributing 13 per cent of PM2.5 emissions. In short, wood burning is a greater source of pollution than older vehicles when it comes to particulate matter.
Therefore, it is important that actions to reduce emissions from wood burning stoves, coal fires, open fires and all household burning are implemented.
Page last reviewed: 28 November 2023
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