What do the experts say?

Results from a recent study of residential wood heating in Hobart (Todd, 2001) found no apparent correlation between average visible smoke and age of woodheaters results of the study indicate that AS4013 certified heaters do not produce less visible smoke.  By implication, the overriding determinant of emissions is operating practice.Extract from a Scoping Study submitted to Environment Australia in May 2001 (refer www.ea.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/woodsmoke/tamarstudy.html). 

If you can see or smell smoke then you are causing a problem for yourself, your family and your neighbours.NSW EPA. 

Woodheaters and fireplaces are significant sources of particles and carbon monoxide.  In some locations, they contribute more than half the total load and are responsible for regular exceedences of ambient air quality limits. Environment Australia. 

Wood smoke causes health problems by choking our lungs.  The most vulnerable are those with existing lung disease.  Dr James Markos, Australian Lung Foundation. 

Individuals should avoid burning wood in homes where less polluting heating alternatives are available. The American Lung Association. 

With a wood heater, unlike many other appliances, if you use the heater badly you can produce up to 100 times as much smoke as using it really well, and this is a huge difference, and you can imagine if all it takes is perhaps 5 percent of the wood heater users to be using them badly and suddenly you’ve got a problem from just five percent.  Dr J Todd, University of Tasmania 2002. 

Wood smoke contains chemicals that we know can affect our health.  Some of these cause respiratory (breathing) problems, and others are known to cause cancer.  Environment Australia. 

The estimates of particle emissions from wood heaters in Brisbane are comparable to Sydney despite the warmer climate and smaller population size in Brisbane.  Draft National Environment Protection Measure and Impact Statement for Ambient Air Quality 1997. 

Of the pollutant load contributed through human activity, domestic fuel use appears to contribute some 16% of the total particle load, 5% of VOCs and 6.5% of carbon monoxide.  Clearly this is a substantial source of emissions and specific strategies are warranted to target domestic solid fuel appliances, such as solid fuel heaters and wood stoves.  Smoke from these sources was also identified by the community as having significant local pollution impacts.  South East Queensland Regional Air Quality Strategy 1999.

What log fires put in the air.  Toxic Toll - Particle pollution from domestic wood burners:   Winter weekend 46.5 tonnes a day.  Winter weekday 34.6 tonnes.  Motor vehicles:  Winter weekend 14.8 tonnes a day, Winter weekday 18.3 tonnes."  Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) 3rd June 2001 (Consider the ratio of wood heaters to motor vehicles).