Tell us about your experience with woodsmoke - please click here
Not using wood heating is one of the best ways individuals can reduce their personal contribution to global warming
Posters: health benefits; global warming/environmental benefits
***$1000 reward*** for replacing wood heaters in Armidale with clean heating
Council Information and link to application form.
Important petition to Health & Environment Ministers & EPAs:
Appeal to Australian Environment Ministers Meeting, 15 Dec 2015: Save 700 lives a year by cleaning up air and woodsmoke pollution Although a 6 ug/m3 standard would avoid the premature deaths of at least 700 Australians per year, the NSW EPA said that much of the pollution they were measuring at the Richmond & Liverpool sites, Sydney was from wood burning and it might be difficult to tighten PM2.5 standards.
STOP NEW WOOD HEATERS EMITTING MORE POLLUTION IN A FEW HOURS THAN THE AVERAGE CAR IN AN ENTIRE YEAR - click here to sign
Current Armidale PM2.5 Measurements
Woodsmoke exposure linked to reduced IQ of children aged 6-7, confirming the results of a study in New York and a research in Poland linking exposure to PAH (the main toxins in woodsmoke, cigarette smoke and traffic fumes) to reduced IQ of children starting school.
Video presentation by Dr Brian Moench (Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment) on how air pollution affects the brain and leads to epigenetic damage that can affect the health of future generations.
Armidale's Air Quality Policy - Summary of Submissions
More Air Pollution News Particulate pollution affects heart health, experts speak about woodsmoke and health
Washington State Dept of Ecology video
Recommendations of Health Experts
The Australian Lung Foundation (ALF) recommends: “use alternative methods (instead of wood heaters) for climate control, including insulating and improving the energy efficiency of homes, flued gas and electric heaters and energy efficient house design” http://lungfoundation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Woodsmoke-The-Burning-Issue.pdf
NSW's top doctor says we should consider banning wood fire heaters NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant says wood heaters are so detrimental to health she supported banning and phasing them out in built-up urban areas to control wood smoke.
The American Lung Association "is urging the public to avoid wood burning and to consider cleaner burning alternatives. Burning wood emits harmful toxins and fine particles into the air that can worsen asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”The Australian Medical Association called on the Tasmanian Government to ban woodheaters in the Tamar Valley (Launceston) and introduce new subsidies for alternatives http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2006/10/16/1765526.htm
Armidale Lung Specialist Dr Gary Baker, “We need to eliminate or minimise the need for heating by design. Wherever possible, substitution with other non-polluting technologies is the best."
The Fireplace Delusion: by Sam Harris. "The case against burning wood is every bit as clear as the case against smoking cigarettes. Indeed, it is even clearer, because when you light a fire, you poison the air that everyone around you for miles must breathe ...
"I have discovered that when I make this case, even to highly intelligent and health-conscious men and women, a psychological truth quickly becomes as visible as a pair of clenched fists: They do not want to believe any of it. Most people I meet want to live in a world in which wood smoke is harmless. Indeed, they seem committed to living in such a world, regardless of the facts.
"And yet, the reality of our situation is scientifically unambiguous: If you care about your family’s health and that of your neighbors, the sight of a glowing hearth should be about as comforting as the sight of a diesel engine idling in your living room."
Truth vs SensationalismThe wood heating industry argues that providing people with simple facts, e.g. that the average new woodheater produces as much health-hazardous PM2.5 pollution as 100-267 passenger cars is "sensationalism".
Simple facts needed to make an intelligent decision about home heating systems should never be considered "sensational". Much more sensational is the problem that these facts are not widely known, and that industry has been allowed to describe a product that emits more health-hazardous PM2.5 pollution than 100 passenger cars as clean or environmentally friendly.
Intelligent people generally take claims of cigarette manufacturers (who make money from selling their product) with a pinch of salt. For similar reasons, the recommendations of health experts such as the Australian Lung Foundation, the American Lung Association and the AMA should be considered more reliable than what the wood heating industry wants us to believe.
American Lung Association - 10 tips for cleaner air
7. Avoid burning wood.
Avoid use of wood burning in indoor and outdoor fireplaces. Just like tobacco smoke, wood smoke pollution is harmful to your health. Wood burning comprises 33 percent of particle pollution during the winter in some areas. Cleaner burning alternatives such as natural gas and electric fireplaces are available for the glow without the smoke!
Welcome to the Australian Air Quality Group Website
These pages summarise (and provide sources for) important information about the health hazards of one of the major sources of health-hazardous PM2.5 fine particle pollution - wood heating.
Another section provides more comprehensive research information into all sources of air pollution and non-polluting environmentally alternatives such as solar heating.
Comments and feedback welcome - please click here
* Wood heating doesn't emit less greenhouse gases than other forms of heating
* Local doctor so concerned about Armidale's woodsmoke that he is urging people with respiratory problems to get out of town
* PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) exposure causes genetic damage in babies and a 5 point reduction in a child's IQ at age 5. These effects were found in a US study of mothers exposed during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy to PAH levels just over a quarter of Armidale's average winter measurements.
* Exposure to PM2.5 in childhood is associated with increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adulthood
* 8.8 additional visits to Armidale GPs every day in winter for woodsmoke-related respiratory complaints
* Tasmanian Department of Health & Human Services Factsheet on Woodsmoke - don't exercise in smoky air
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
With abrupt climate change approaching faster than predicted according to scientists, fast-action mitigation strategies are essential in order to avoid passing the tipping points. The Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) has embarked on a “fast-action” climate mitigation campaign to promote non-CO2 strategies that will result in significant emissions reductions in the near-term. These strategies include reducing emissions of short-term climate forcers, such as black carbon, methane, and tropospheric ozone.
Under normal operation, methane emissions from the average Australian wood heater in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane will cause more global warming over a 100-year timespan than heating the same house with gas or a reverse cycle airconditioner. The problem, as explained by the IGSD, is that the world's climate might reach a tipping point in substantially less than 100 years. Over a 50 year timespan, the average Australian wood heater will cause more global warming than gas or reverse cycle electric heating, even if the wood is from a sustainable source.
Environmental Sustainabilty - Logs Have Life InsideThe Federal Department of Environment Brochure explains:
"What people often don't know, is that collecting logs for firewood can harm animals, birds and other creatures living and feeding inside. Hollow logs provide a safe and warm place for animals to hide in and raise families. Birds make nests in hollow trees. Insects, like the stag beetle, feed on dead wood to survive. Many birds, reptiles and mammals in turn need to eat insects for their survival. Sadly, not enough people know that logs have life inside, meaning many types of animals and plants are disappearing when their homes are burnt for firewood."
Collecting dead wood for firewood affects many different types of creatures: birds, mammals, reptiles,amphibians, invertebrates and fungi.