Toxic wood smoke

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Lance Kennedy
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Toxic wood smoke

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:34 pm

Reference : New Scientist, 4 February 2017, page 22

We all know that tobacco smoke is toxic, and carcinogenic. What is not so widely known is that all forms of smoke are the same, to varying degrees. Incense. Marijuana. And fires. Wood smoke is one of the most widely inhaled forms of smoke world wide, and it carries a cost. It is estimated that 4 million people each year die from the long term effects of regularly inhaling wood smoke.

In 2016, air pollution in London reached levels massively higher than government standards. Half of that pollution came from domestic wood burning stoves used for home heating. Even in an enclosed, and well designed wood burning stove, the concentratyion of nasty pollutants reaches a level well above that considered to be 'safe', inside the home. The people burning wood for their own heating are slowly poisoning themselves. The situation is worse for open fires, and is worse still in third world countries where wood is used for cooking. The suggestion in the New Scientist article is that western governments should prohibit wood burning stoves for domestic heating, since there is no way to use them safely.

The worst problem is microscopic particles that cause lung cancer. A supposedly "smokeless" stove produces 500,000 such particles per cubic centimeter in the chimney. By comparison, the exhaust of a modern diesel truck produces only 1,000.

In Copenhagen, a city of 600,000 people, just 16,000 stoves produce more micro particles in the months of winter than all their traffic does over 12 months. Yet that is nothing to the indoor smog breathed by the wood stove users.

Is it time to get rid of this rather nasty method of heating homes?

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Re: Toxic wood smoke

Postby Poodle » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:17 pm

To be replaced with what, Lance?

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Lance Kennedy
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Re: Toxic wood smoke

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:48 pm

What I use myself, Poodle, is a heat pump. Heat pumps use clean electricity, and are four times as energy efficient as electric radiators. They are cheaper to use than gas heaters, and cheaper than wood burners to use, if you have to buy firewood. The only possible drawback is that much electricity is generated using the burning of coal, which would be counter-productive. I can only hope that governments are smart enough to go to cleaner methods, like modern nuclear.


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