Categorie Archieven: Buitenland

Ook in Frankrijk is het “houtrookmonster”..

Hi !

We also struggle in France with woodsmoke (no regulation at all), we feel very lonely. Most of the French don’t take the problem seriously because “woodsmoke is natural/traditional, so it’s good”. You would really help us by showing that many people around the world struggle with that issue. Please add a comment in your langage on this video (subtitle) that would say for instance “I’m living in XXX and support a wood burning regulation, because wood smoke are dangerous”.

Why should we regulate wood fire?


Published on Mar 22, 2016

Filmé à Saint Avé, depuis l’intérieur du logement (dans la fumée). La fumée de notre voisin rentre dans notre logement plus de la moitié de l’année, jour et nuit. Depuis 2 ans, nous vivons et dormons dans des odeurs de brulé et au milieu de particules toxiques (cf. les études dans l’article ci-dessous). Le 21 mars 2016, après des centaines de jours et nuits d’exposition à ces pollutions, nous sommes toujours sans recours malgré les nuisances et les dangers qu’elles représentent…

Nous avons :
– écrit à plusieurs reprises, il y a un an et demi, à la mairie de Saint Avé : courriers restés sans réponse
– écrit au procureur : “ce n’est pas de notre ressors”
– écrit au médiateur : courrier resté sans réponse
– contacté la gendarmerie: “ce n’est pas de notre ressort, je vous conseille de déménager”
– contacté la police municipale : “pourquoi les fumées de votre voisin viennent chez vous ?”
– eu un entretien avec un conseiller municipal (M. Belleguic) : “je vous conseille de déménager”
– eu un entretien avec Mme Gallo, la maire de Saint Avé (divers gauche) : “ne seriez-vous pas trop sensibles ? ”, et “des problèmes de voisinage, on en a tous les jours, des problèmes de hauteur de haie, de voitures mal garées…”
– un entretien avec l’ADIL : “je vous conseille de déménager”
– écrit au député Hervé Pellois “j’ai fait suivre votre témoignage à la Ministre de l’Environnement, Ségolène Royal”
– écrit au préfet M. Degos
– déposé une plainte auprès de la Commission européenne
– écrit à la DRIEE
– écrit au ministère de l’Environement
– écrit au ministère de la Santé
– écrit au ministère du Logement.

● Au sujet des dangers liés à une exposition aux fumées des feux de bois :…

Cette pétition nous donne la possibilité de nous soucier de ceux qui souffrent le plus de ces pollutions :…

Wood Stove Smoke Is Killing Us

Wood Stove Smoke Is Killing Us

 02/02/2015 11:32 am ET | Updated Apr 04, 2015
  • Cathy ShufroJournalist and photographer; OpEd Project Public Voices Fellow

Winter cold has set in, and smoke curls skyward from my neighbor’s chimney. Once, I would have found that charming. No longer.

Now I know that his smoke is making me sick. For starters, wood smoke causes heart disease, irregular heartbeat, lung cancer, and emphysema. I’m not alone in waking up to these hazards: Cities from Paris to Montreal to Tacoma are responding with restrictions aimed at wood-burning.

And on Tuesday (February 3), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue new rules requiring manufacturers to redesign wood stoves and other wood-fired heaters to burn cleaner and more efficiently, with standards phased in over five years. But these improvements will do little to clean the air, because the rules won’t require people to get rid of their old stoves. The 11 million American households that heat with wood will be allowed to keep on stoking their polluting stoves. The EPA’s approach resembles waving a potholder to clear smoke from a raging kitchen fire. 

Non-smokers are no longer forced to breathe cigarette smoke in restaurants and offices, but wood smoke can have the same effects: many toxins in cigarette smoke and wood smoke overlap. These include formaldehyde, heavy metals and cancer-causing compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In a single hour, a fire in a hearth generates quantities of these hydrocarbons at levels produced by burning 6,000 packs of cigarettes. 

Each fall, the return of my childhood asthma coincides with the first smoke from my neighbor’s chimney. I thought that shutting my windows might shield me. But studies show that more than half of the smallest particles in smoke find their way inside, despite sealed windows. Those tiny, lightweight particles and droplets arewood smoke’s most vicious components. They dive deep within the lungs, scarring lung tissue and streaming into the blood. The smallest particles are so light that they travel for miles. My neighbor’s wood-burning may be eroding the health of families who live far from his smoking chimney.

Is this legal? I called my health department here in Connecticut. They told me that the only law that might apply is the nuisance statute in the state’s public health code. It addresses perils including flies swarming around outhouses–but it doesn’t even mention smoke.

That’s in a state in which the number of households heating primarily with wood more than doubled between 2000 and 2010. The number of Americans who burn wood for heat grew by a third from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. census.The EPA estimates that, based on 2005 air quality, small particles cause 130,000 Americans to die prematurely each year–including 1,800 babies.

I once relished cozy evenings beside friends’ wood stoves. But the romance is gone: I’ve learned that just a few hours of inhaling wood smoke can trigger a stroke or heart attack in someone with underlying disease. I sympathize with my well-meaning neighbor. He views his woodpile as a symbol of self-reliance. But when I see people with lung disease tethered to oxygen tanks, I know that wood smoke may have made them sick, or sicker. They don’t get to be self-sufficient.

Increasingly, local and regional governments are stepping in where the EPA dreads to tread. Around Washington State’s Puget Sound, a regional air quality agencyenforces no-burn days when pollution spikes. Furthermore, 3.8 million residents there have until September to rid themselves of wood stoves built before 1995.Montreal has gone farther. In Canada’s second-largest city, where an estimated 900 residents die early each year because of wood smoke, the city has banned installation of any new wood-fired appliances except those burning pellets. Paris recently declared and then rescinded a prohibition on burning wood in fireplaces.

Health districts nationwide should shut down wood stoves and furnaces if their smoke enters neighbors’ houses. Every town and city should monitor air quality and ban burning when particulate pollution runs high.

Ironically, while our developed nation continues to tolerate wood-burning, smoke pollution gets attention in poor countries. More than 1,000 governments and NGOs have joined the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution in developing countries. They are acting because the WHO has reported that indoor smoke causes nearly 4 million people to die prematurely each year from heart disease, strokes and chronic lung problems. Soot leads to half the lung infections that kill children under 5.

Autopsies of ancient Egyptians have found that mummies’ lungs are laden with carbon deposits from wood smoke. Three thousand years later, it’s appalling to recognize that our own autopsies will look the same. It’s time we protect ourselves.

Luchtvervuiling raakt ook het ongeboren kind…

Op-ed: Air pollution’s damage starts hitting Utah children before birth

First Published Feb 12 2016 06:18PM        Last Updated Feb 12 2016 08:10 pm

Perhaps you’ve recently heard these comments: “I’m using my inhaler constantly.” “My kids are all sick.” “Why doesn’t the Legislature care?” “The deer in my backyard are so disgusted even they’re moving out of state.”

Yes, something is terribly wrong when you can see, smell, taste and chew the air. But while everyone notices the inversion, the worst of air pollution’s health affects go largely unnoticed.

On any one day, about 40,000 women are pregnant in Utah. During some part of their pregnancy, most of them will have to breathe air we know is toxic. We’ve known for decades that developmental toxins like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, some pharmaceuticals and poor nutrition during intrauterine life can have lifelong consequences. Now we know the same is true of air pollution, even short term, like our inversions.

Few of us ever give thanks to our placenta. You should. It’s the most important organ you no longer have. It’s the ultimate vascular, or blood vessel, structure. Air pollution, on the other hand, is the ultimate vascular insult, causing inflammation, constriction and impaired blood flow. Given that, it should come as no surprise that air pollution could wreak havoc with placental function and jeopardize its irreplaceable role as facilitator of fetal development. When a fetus is deprived of sufficient blood flow, or the blood is contaminated with particles, chemicals or toxins from the mother, the end result can range from fetal demise to subtle but meaningful harm to any and all organs. Poor pregnancy outcomes, like miscarriages, premature birth, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, birth defects and still births, all increase with more air pollution.

The development of the fetal brain is nature’s most magnificent biological process. New brain cells are added at a rate of 250,000 per minute, reaching a total of 100- to 200-billion cells. Each cell has to migrate to a precise location at just the right time, connecting to a thousand other cells, with nerve-to-nerve connections estimated at 100 trillion. Even short-term interference with this exquisitely delicate process, for just days or weeks, will impair the end result.

Some lawmakers take the view that we can largely overlook our inversions because our average pollution is acceptable. But averages can tell a misleading story. The tragedy of lead contaminated water in Flint, Mich. illustrates why. The amount of brain damage from lead is inversely proportional to the age of the victim (i.e. the fetus is the most at risk). Lead is so toxic that just a flake of peeling contaminated paint or pipe corrosion can cause brain damage, even though lead only lasts a few weeks in the bloodstream. By looking only at average blood-lead levels of a child, you can completely miss an event that caused irreversible damage to a young brain. By looking only at average lead levels in the community, you can miss the entire picture.

Just like water, contaminated air can be the delivery mechanism for toxins that include lead and even more neurotoxic heavy metals like mercury. And chemicals ranging from dioxins to PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). PAHs are found in most combustion pollution, but they are particularly high from oil refineries and extraordinarily high in wood smoke. Numerous studies have shown that the tiny particles in air pollution can have significant clinical affects on brain function and provoke disorders throughout the age spectrum, ranging from children with learning disabilities to adults with Alzheimers. Other studies in both animals and humans document deterioration in brain size, architecture, microbiology, DNA and loss of critical brain proteins and chemical transmitters.

Air pollution can alter the chemical bath, or “epigenetics” that supports and influences the functioning of genes. Epigenetic changes can turn genes on or off inappropriately, triggering a long list of future disease vulnerabilities, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Those changes can occur within minutes after exposure, some can persist throughout a lifetime, and can even be passed on to future generations. At least three generations can be placed in harms way by just a brief pollution event. We are what our grandparents inhaled. Our grandchildren will be what we inhale.

The littlest victims of air pollution have no lobbyists on Capitol Hill. But little lives matter. Even short-term inversions can put them in jeopardy.

Dr. Brian Moench is president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

De pelletkachel

De reuze pellet kachel.

Pellets zijn gemalen houtsnippers en worden geperst in kleine rolletjes. Het hout wordt uit bossen in de USA gehaald en met grote tankers naar Nederland verscheept. Heel milieu vriendelijk???

Er zijn ook apparaten in de handel waarmee de stokers zelf hun pellets kunnen maken. 
Met behulp van een zelf gekochte pers kunnen mensen zelf korrels maken en dus echt van alles
waar ze van af willen samen persen ( van laminaat vloer tot natte boomschors etc, krantenpapier vol met drukinkt).
De buren krijgen de ellende over zich heen middels sterk vervuilde rook.

Een ramp in het land van herkomst (zie deze video van éénvandaag)

Zie meer over de pelletkachel:

Ook de professionals hebben veel moeite om “goed” te stoken.


Zo was het een hele lange tijd.

Nu is het na veel klagen een stuk beter. Weinig tot geen rook en minder stank, maar wel het onzichtbare reukloze ultra fijnstof.



Orang Oetangs aan beademing

AD 12-10-2015 Orang Oetangs aan beademing

De houtvuurtjes worden ook wel the silent killer in the kitchen genoemd


Zo koken eist vijf keer zo veel levens als malaria

Houtvuurtjes binnenshuis Kooktoestellen in arme landen kunnen levens redden. En ze zijn ook nog eens goed voor het klimaat. Nederland moet ze daarom blijven financieren, bepleiten ngo’s en bedrijven.

Overal in arme landen koken mensen binnenshuis op vaste brandstof zoals hout of gedroogde mest, met longziekten tot gevolg. Deze foto is gemaakt in Ethiopië.

Cookstoves kunnen een belangrijke bijdrage leveren aan het voorkomen van klimaatverandering en kunnen miljoenen levens redden. Met de financiering van deze zuinige, schone kooktoestellen in ontwikkelingslanden kan Nederland volgens Sible Schöne, programmadirecteur van het HIER Klimaatbureau, eenzelfde rendement bereiken als met de klimaatdoelen in het Nederlandse Energieakkoord, bedoeld voor de omslag naar duurzame energie. Voor nog geen tiende van de kosten.

Overal in arme landen koken mensen binnenshuis op vaste brandstof zoals hout of gedroogde mest, met longziekten tot gevolg. Deze foto is gemaakt in Laos.

In een brief aan de Tweede Kamer pleiten dertien organisaties en bedrijven, variërend van Philips tot Hivos en het FairClimateFund, er daarom vandaag voor dat Nederland doorgaat met het financieren van projecten voor schoner koken. De organisaties willen tot 2020 in ontwikkelingslanden tien miljoen kooktoestellen verspreiden. Maar de huidige projecten worden nog betaald uit de 500 miljoen euro extra ontwikkelingsgeld voor duurzame energie van het kabinet-Balkenende IV (CDA, PvdA, CU) uit 2007. En die pot, waarvan zo’n 100 miljoen euro naar kooktoestellen ging, is in 2017 leeg.

Gedroogde mest

Volgens Wim van Nes, van ontwikkelingsorganisatie SNV, koken wereldwijd circa 2,9 miljard mensen op ‘vaste brandstof’. In steden is dat vooral houtskool, op het platteland veelal hout of gedroogde mest. Bij de verbranding daarvan komt veel roet vrij en zo wordt koken een ongezonde bezigheid. „Zo’n simpel houtvuurtje binnenshuis wordt ook wel the silent killer in the kitchen genoemd”, zegt Van Nes. „Volgens de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie sterven jaarlijks meer dan vier miljoen mensen aan longaandoeningen door het koken op hout.” Dat is het vijfvoud van het aantal doden dat malaria eist.

De cookstoves zijn er in soorten en maten. Maar voor alle varianten geldt dat ze veel minder brandstof nodig hebben en dat de brandstof optimaal wordt benut. Dat betekent dat cookstoves niet alleen goed zijn voor de gezondheid van de gebruikers, maar ook kan helpen om houtkap en bosdegradatie te voorkomen. Ook kunnen vrouwen – en vaak ook kinderen – meer tijd aan andere dingen besteden, omdat ze anders uren bezig zijn met het sprokkelen van hout.

Klik of tab op de NRC-logo’s voor meer informatie

Daarnaast zijn de cookstoves goed voor het klimaat. Een gemiddeld apparaat bespaart 1,2 ton kooldioxide per jaar. „Dat is ongeveer net zo veel als tien zonnepanelen”, zegt Schöne. „En dat voor maar een paar tientjes per jaar.”

De houtvuurtjes worden ook wel the silent killer in the kitchen genoemd

De tien miljoen kooktoestellen die de ontwikkelingsorganisaties tot 2020 willen financieren, leveren dus een besparing op van bijna 12 megaton CO2: 5 procent van de totale Nederlandse uitstoot van broeikasgassen. En dat voor enkele tientallen miljoenen euro’s. „Ter vergelijking, het Energieakkoord levert 13 tot 17 megaton CO2 op”, zegt Schöne.

De doorbraak voor de zuinige kooktoestellen kwam volgens Wim van Nes een jaar of vijf geleden. De eerste projecten verliepen vaak moeizaam. „Dat kwam door de afwezigheid van het bedrijfsleven”, zegt Van Nes. „Veel aandacht ging naar het product zelf. Terwijl die juist gericht zou moeten zijn op de markt.”

Maar ook nu blijven volgens Van Nes genoeg uitdagingen over. „Het belangrijkste is dat de lokale bevolking de voordelen gaat zien. Daarvoor moeten mensen oude gewoontes loslaten. Het is net als met sanitatie. Mensen moeten eerst begrijpen dat het niet verstandig is hun behoefte in de openlucht te doen.”

Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken wil niet vooruitlopen op een onafhankelijke evaluatie van de projecten die met de 500 miljoen euro aan ontwikkelingsgeld zijn gefinancierd. Het rapport komt volgende maand en wordt, met een aanbeveling van het ministerie, naar de Kamer gestuurd.

De verwachting is dat het ministerie de voordelen van deze vorm van ontwikkelingssamenwerking wel ziet. Net als andere landen heeft Nederland beloofd bij te dragen aan klimaatfinanciering voor arme landen. Daar passen de cookstoves goed in. Het helpt dat ze direct de levens verbeteren van de allerarmsten. Want juist daarop is het beleid van minister Ploumen gericht.

Houtrook oergezond………….

NOS Teletekst 125
Scholen Maleisië dicht door smog

 In Maleisië blijven de scholen de
komende twee dagen dicht vanwege rook
die wordt veroorzaakt door bosbranden
op het Indonesische eiland Sumatra.De
autoriteiten verwachten problemen met
de gezondheid door de dichte smog.

De rookvervuiling zou de ergste zijn in
bijna twintig jaar.De afgelopen weken
hebben grote delen van Zuidoost-Azië er
al mee te maken gekregen.

Ook Indonesië zelf,in Singapore en in
de Filipijnen hebben de autoriteiten
voor gezondheidsproblemen gewaarschuwd.
De wind blaast de rook de komende dagen
naar Maleisië.Bewoners van Kuala Lumpur
is aangeraden mondkapjes te krijgen.
volgende nieuws weer&verkeer sport

De Duitse consumentenbond zegt: “houtkachels verhogen de fijnstofbelasting in Duitsland aanmerkelijk

De Duitse consumentenbond zegt: “houtkachels verhogen de fijnstofbelasting in Duitsland aanmerkelijk

Vertaling: De Duitse consumentenbond zegt: “houtkachels verhogen de fijnstofbelasting in Duitsland aanmerkelijk, aldus het Umweltbundesamt (UBA). De uitstoot van deze kachels is inmiddels hoger dan dat van voertuigen. Het risico op luchtwegziektes en hartinfarcten neemt toe. Vanaf 1 januari gelden strengere grenswaarden voor stof- en koolmonoxideuitstoot door oude houtkachels. Het UBA adviseert stoffilters aan te brengen of de oude kachels in te ruilen voor nieuwe als ze niet aan de normen voldoen. De rookbelasting daalt als men slechts onbehandeld hout gebruikt, dat optimaal is gedroogd. Pellets zijn in het algemeen beter dan houtblokken.

Feinstaubbelastung – Kaminöfen in der Kritik – Meldung – Stiftung Warentest BRON

Fein­staubbelastung Meldung

Sauberer. Moderne Öfen heizen besser als alte Schätz­chen.

Holz­heizungen erhöhen die Fein­staubbelastung in Deutsch­land erheblich, berichtet das Umwelt­bundes­amt (UBA). Die Emissionen aus derartigen Feuer­stätten über­steigen mitt­lerweile die Partikelmenge, die Kraft­fahr­zeuge rauspusten. Besonders in Ballungs­räumen und in Tälern verschlechtern Holz­heizungen die Luft­qualität. Dadurch steigt das Risiko für Atemwegs­erkrankungen und Herz­infarkte. Ab 1. Januar 2015 gelten neue Grenz­werte für die Staub- und Kohlen­monoxid­emissionen alter Holz­heizkessel und -öfen. Das UBA empfiehlt, alte Modelle noch vor der Heiz­periode mit Staubfiltern nach­zurüsten oder gegen neue auszutauschen, falls sie die neuen Anforderungen nicht erfüllen.

Tipp: Die Abgasbelastung von Holz­öfen sinkt deutlich, wenn Sie nur unbe­handelte Holz­scheite verfeuern, die optimal getrocknet sind. Pellets verursachen generell weniger Fein­staub als Scheit­holz. Weitere Infos finden Sie im Schnell­test Kaminholz: Vorsicht vor feuchtem Holz, 12/2011 und im Test Kaminöfen und Pelletöfen, test 11/2011.

Wildfire Smoke May Spark Heart Troubles. (Houtrook veroorzaakt hartfalen)

We maken ons druk om asbest, maar rook van houtbranden is heilig dus gezond……….

brand asbest rook asbest wijk dicht

Fine particulate matter linked to acute coronary events, especially in elderly.


Exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution during wildfires may increase risk for cardiac arrest and other acute heart problems, particularly in the elderly, according to Australian researchers.

The time-stratified case-crossover study, which looked at cardiovascular and respiratory health effects of wildfire smoke (PM2.5; aerodynamic diameter <2.5 lm) from the 2006-2007 bushfires in Victoria, Australia, showed a 6.98% increase in cardiac arrest when ambient air is contaminated by smoke from wildfires, reported Anjali Haikerwal, MBBS, MPH, of Monash University in Melbourne, and colleagues.


Associations were observed for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, hospital admissions, and emergency department (ED) visits for ischemic heart disease (IHD) after two days of exposure to wildfire smoke in Victoria at PM2.5 concentrations, they wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

This association was observed mainly in adults 65 or older. Men showed a higher risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests events and women showing a higher risk of IHD-related hospital admissions, they added.

“The results from our study suggest that PM2.5 exposure from wildfire smoke may be an important determinant of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and IHD (ED visits and hospital admissions) and that susceptible persons such as older adults may be at higher risk during such extreme events,” Haikerwal’s group wrote.

One of the most important sources of PM2.5 air pollution is from wildfire smoke exposure, the authors pointed out, adding that “smoke from wildfires disperses widelyand affects large portions of the population away from the fire source.”

Protracted droughts make Victoria one of the most fire-prone regions in the world. The 2006-2007 wildfire was the longest running collection of fires that burned over more than 1 million hectares (about 4,000 square miles) of land in Victoria and lasted for more than 60 days.

Previously, she noted, epidemiological studies investigating the role of fine particulate matter in triggering acute coronary events, including out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and IHD, during wildfires, have been inconclusive.

This examination of the associations between of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, IHD, acute myocardial infarction, and angina (hospital admissions and ED attendance) with PM2.5 concentrations during the 2006–2007 wildfires paints a different picture.

“Their data support previous findings of increased cardiovascular hospital admissions during increased air pollution exposure, and basic studies showing that particulate contamination can alter autonomic activity and negatively affect cardiovascular health,” said Alfred Bove, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, in an interview.

“The findings indicate that patients should be made aware of an increased risk for cardiovascular events during times when air pollution is particularly severe, whether from wildfires, heavy vehicle traffic or other exposures,” he told MedPage Today.

He pointed out that it was likely that many of the subjects who experienced a cardiovascular event had underlying cardiovascular disease. For this reason, “patients with known cardiovascular disease should be instructed to avoid air pollution exposures, and find filtered air environments when pollution levels are high, as in the event of environmental smoke contamination from wildfires,” he said.

Bove added that similar advice is appropriate for those without a history of cardiovascular disease.

The authors acknowledged that a study limitation was the the lack of information on personal risk factors such as socioeconomic status, smoking, obesity, and underlying health conditions. They also lacked data on indoor PM concentrations while the wildfires were raging.

During the December 2006 to January 2007 study period, health data were obtained from comprehensive health-based administrative registries. Modeled and validated air exposure data from wildfire smoke emissions (daily average PM2.5, temperature, relative humidity) were also estimated for this period.

There were 457 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 2,106 ED visits, and 3,274 hospital admissions for IHD, the authors reported.

After adjusting for temperature and relative humidity, an increase in interquartile range of 9.04 lg/m3 in PM2.5 over two days moving average (lag 0-1) was associated with a 6.98% (95% CI 1.03%-13.29%) increase in risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, with strong association shown by men (9.05%,95%CI 1.63%-17.02%) and by seniors (7.25%, 95% CI 0.24%-14.75%).

Increase in risk was 2.07% (95% CI 0.09%-4.09%) for IHD-related emergency department attendance and 1.86% (95% CI 0.35%-3.4%) for IHD-related hospital admissions at lag two days, with strong associations shown by women (3.21%, 95% CI 0.81%-5.67%) and by older adults (2.41%, 95% CI 0.82%-5.67%).

PM2.5 levels during wildfire episodes can exceed air quality guidelines set by regulatory bodies such as the World Health Organization, the authors stated, adding that it has long been hypothesized that PM2.5 is particularly toxic because it can penetrate deep into the lungs and induce systemic and oxidative stress responses.

This in turn could potentially trigger a cascade of pathophysiological events and lead to manifestations of CHD, including chronic and angina, plaque instability, and rupture, typically following myocardial infarction and cardiac arrest, they said.

“Given the increased incidence and frequency of wildfires recently and the increased number of people at risk of smoke exposure, future research is required to investigate the role of fine particulate matter exposure from wildfire smoke in triggering acute coronary events,” they concluded. “The knowledge and evidence resulting from such research will inform policy and practice and help build capacity in the understanding and management of adverse cardiovascular health impacts in vulnerable communities during wildfire episodes.”

From the American Heart Association:

The research was funded by Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) now a part of Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Haikerwal and co-authors disclosed no relevant relationships with industry.

  • Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

LAST UPDATED 07.17.2015

All About Wood Smoke

Wood smoke is the problem, no doubt about it, and is by far the most compelling argument against wood heating. To be fair, the critics do have a point, although their extremism can be off-putting. There are places, mainly communities in sheltered mountain valleys, where, when the locals fire up their stoves and fireplaces during a cold snap, the smoke gets so thick you can’t see across the street. A frigid, stagnant air mass traps the smoke close to the ground. It smells terrible, affects everybody and makes some people sick.

For most of us, though, wood smoke is rarely seen as an issue because the particular topographical and climatological features that trap smoke don’t exist everywhere. Wood smoke tends to blow away before it annoys anybody. Smoke pollution only becomes a problem when the odd person can’t or won’t burn properly, thus attracting the ire of the neighbors.

In truth, the majority of woodburning devices currently installed are filthy in the smoke emissions department. That is, they emit particulates at the rate of 20 to 60 grams per hour of operation. A person who sets out to burn without smoke could easily get below this range by using decent fuel and burning smaller, hotter fires. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how. And, as of the last twenty years or so, we have new wood heating technologies that emit less than 7.5 grams per hour and most of the current models run in the range of 2 to 4 g/h. Again, an operator with a no-smoke attitude can get to the lower end of this range.

vaporization1. Wood vaporizes when heated into gases and tar particles. 2. If the temperature is high enough the tar particles vaporize into chemicals and carbon particles. 3. If the temperature is higher still and there is oxygen present, the gases and particles burn in bright flames.As pollutants go, the story of wood smoke is an interesting one. Chemically speaking, wood is about half carbon and the rest is mostly made up of oxygen and hydrogen. When you heat up a piece of wood, it starts to smoke and turn black at the same time. This is because the other stuff vaporizes under intense heat faster than the carbon burns, so smoking leaves much of the carbon behind until only charcoal, which is just about pure carbon, is left. The smoke that vaporizes out of the wood is a cloud of nasty, gooey little droplets of a tar-like liquid. Chemically, these droplets are actually big, gooey, complicated hydrocarbon molecules that take a number of different forms, mostly bad. If you’ve followed the issue, you may have seen the list of fifty or so chemicals found in wood smoke. They all sound lethal, but it turns out that only a few are actually carcinogenic. Be aware, however, that the list is bogus because these are the chemicals that result from smoldering, not burning.

When you burn wood properly in a bright, hot, turbulent fire, what you see is the tar droplets rising off the wood into a zone of extreme heat where they re-vaporize, cracking into their basic, mostly gaseous, constituents, and oxidize. That is to say, they burn. You are left with carbon dioxide, some carbon monoxide and a number of other gases, water vapor and some not quite completely oxidized hydrocarbon bits. The bits are the particulate emissions that EPA regulates. When it comes to these sooty particulate emissions, of course, the fewer the better.

The complicated hydrocarbons that spew into the air as smoke from a smoldering wood fire are inherently unstable. And they stink. Hence their formal name: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. As soon as the tarry droplets exit the chimney their more volatile gases start to evaporate and their chemical make-up changes. In the scheme of things these are heavy molecules so they eventually fall to ground. There, they mix with water and soil, transforming again as they blend into the background as humus. The key point is that while wood smoke is unhealthy to breathe in high concentrations, it is not poisonous to the environment.

It turns out that the human nose is almost unbelievably sensitive to these aromatic hydrocarbons. Maybe you have experienced this: you are cross-country skiing or snow shoeing far from the nearest house when out of nowhere comes that wonderfully spicy scent of wood smoke. Your nose can detect the most minute concentrations of these compounds in the air, at lower concentrations than the most sensitive emission montoring equipment. In most people these hints of wood smoke in the air elicit fond memories of hearth and home. Some say our highly developed response to the smell of burning wood is a form of ancient homing instinct that we still carry around in our genes.

But, at what airborne concentration does wood smoke change from being a pleasant smell to being unhealthy air pollution? The technical answer is probably meaningless to most people, but they sure know when they’ve inhaled enough, and it isn’t much. Although there might be some debate about acceptable concentrations in the outside environment, the smell of wood smoke inside a house must always be defined as pollution. No woodburning system should ever spill smoke into the room. If yours does, you really ought to get it looked at.

opacitywashingtonstateThese three photos from the Washington State department of ecology show smoke opacity levels. Note that a properly used EPA certified appliance will produce a much clearer exhaust than the photo on the left.

There are many ways to reduce the amount of smoke your woodburning activities produce. In fact, by using all the techniques that follow, you can get your emissions down near the range that oil furnaces produce, and you don’t hear too many complaints about oil heating emissions.

  • If you don’t already use an EPA certified stove, fireplace or insert, buy one as soon as you can. This one step can cut your emissions by as much as 90 per cent. Pellet stoves and masonry heaters are not usually EPA certified, but burn in the sub-5 gram range, so they are also low-emission options.
  • Use only properly seasoned firewood. That means it is cut, split and stacked in the open between six months and a year before burning. Drying may take longer in cold, damp climates, or if the wood is big pieces of very hard wood. Split the wood to a range of sizes that suit your heater.

The way you manage the fire has a big effect on how much smoke you make. When things are going well, this is what you should see:

  • When wood burns it should be flaming until only charcoal remains. If there are no flames, something is wrong.
  • If there are firebricks in the firebox, they should be tan in color, never black.
  • Steel or cast iron parts in the firebox should be light to dark brown, never black and shiny.
  • With seasoned wood, correct air settings and proper loading arrangement you should expect almost instant ignition of a new load of wood. If the wood doesn’t ignite quickly, something is wrong.
  • If the appliance has a glass door with airwash, it should be clear.
  • If the appliance has a glass door without airwash, it will be hazy, but should never be totally black.
  • The exhaust coming from the top of the chimney should be perfectly clear or white with steam. A plume of blue or gray smoke indicates that you have a problem.

That’s all there is to it. Clean burning with no smoke is not rocket science, it just takes some extra awareness like most other acts of environmental responsibility.