By Owen Xu Li
Under new regulations aimed at reducing air pollution, the sale of domestic coal and wet wood for domestic combustion has been restricted in England.
People can still use stoves and open flames, but they need cleaner combustion alternatives.
Since the Clean Air Act of the 1950s, there have not been any new regulations on what people can burn inside their homes.
Britain’s air is cleaner now, but in recent years, pollution from wood burners has increased dramatically. Only 8% of homes use them, but according to government data, they are now the largest source of the most harmful micro-pollutants.
It showed that domestic firewood burned in closed stoves and open flames accounted for 38% of the pollutant particles below 2.5 microns. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) warned that these small particles can enter the roads and enter the lungs and other organs are three times higher than road traffic. Now, The World Health Organization identifies it as the most serious air pollutant for human health.
There will not be any bans on log burners and open fire, but the government says people will have to buy dry firewood or manufactured solids that produce less smoke. According to
Defra, both options are equally easy to obtain and burn more efficiently, making them cleaner and more profitable. Defra also claims that burning dry wood produces more heat and less smoke and dust than wet wood, and can reduce emissions by up to 50%.
The significance of the regulations is:
- Selling traditional house coal and wet wood in small units (less than 2 cubic meters) is now illegal.
- Wet wood (in quantities over 2 cubic meters) can be sold only with advice on how to dry it before using it.
- Manufacturers of solid fuels need to show they have low sulphur content and emit little to no smoke
Wales and Scotland are considering similar recommendations to reduce wood and charcoal burning.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said this marks the latest move in the government’s clean air strategy.
She adds that burning clean fuel is a more effective option for families in England because it helps reduce exposure to this harmful pollutant and is good for the environment.
Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation adviser Harriet Edwards welcomed the move.
She warned that air pollution is particularly harmful to people with lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Pow said that air pollution could increase the risks of suffering life-threatening asthma attacks or flare-up.
Other lung experts believe that in the future, all log burners and other fires are banned in built-up areas.
Professor Jonathan Grieg, a member of the UK Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, said that unless new technologies are developed to reduce harmful air pollution, wood should not be burned in places where exposure to air pollution is high.
Wet vs. dry firewood.
Wet wood, also known as green or uncured wood, is generally sold in net form and is cheap. It contains moisture and, when burned, produces more smoke and air pollutant particles (PM2.5) than dry wood. It can also be harmful to chimneys because it allows the build-up of tar and soot.
Dried or seasoned wood has a moisture of 20% or less.