A community-led study revealed that log burners continually exceed the World Health Organisation’s daily guidelines for air pollution over six months. The study was conducted from November last year to March and found 11 exceedances of ultra-fine particulate pollution recommendations.
Households in Ashley, Bristol, were given sensors to monitor the pollution emitted from their log-burning devices.
Wood and coal burners create tiny particulate matter – called PM2.5 and PM10 – which can cause asthma, heart disease and lung cancer.
The 10 sensors installed in the study found that the average log burner emitted 10 PM10 and 12 PM2.5.
Log burners triple the level of harmful pollution inside UK homes, according to some scientists.
The Clean Air Act 1993 is enforced in Bristol meaning it is illegal to release smoke from chimneys unless burning an authorised fuel or using an exempt appliance.
Steve Crawshaw, who managed the project, said: “The evidence is that virtually any level of PM 2.5 is harmful – there is no threshold below which you don’t see health effects.”
Bristol City Council hopes to raise awareness of the harmful effects of wood smoke as some 300 people die every year in the city from the poor air quality.
Campaign group Mums for Lungs has called for the Government to ban all wood-burning stoves by 2027.
The group said that, in a six-year period, local councils only issued 19 penalties for wood smoke despite receiving more than 19,000 complaints.
However, soaring energy bills are believed to be forcing some households to use log burners over central heating.
Tim Wye, a local green councillor, said: “Ashley is a split ward with a lot of people living on incredibly low incomes.
“For some, especially now, burning solid fuels is sometimes the only option to stay warm – but what I hope the study shows is that those who can afford it should really think twice about using solid fuels in an urban environment.
“Current research suggests the air pollution impact of wood-burning is really significant, and as with the air pollution emitted by vehicles, there is no ‘safe level’ for humans.”
So what do YOU think? Should log burners be banned as a new warning is issued? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comment section below.