5 studies have linked PM2.5 air pollution to autism. Prof Frank Kelly, director of the environmental research group at King's College London, discussed the research linking PM2.5 pollution to autism: "I think if it was this study by itself I wouldn't take much notice, but it's now the fifth that has come to the same conclusion”.

Increased PM2.5 exposure of 4.1 ug/m3 during pregnancy increased risk of autism spectrum disorder by 39%.  For exposure during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, the increase was about 60%

The NSW Air Emissions Community Web tool (image, right) shows the sources of PM2.5 pollution. Year round, in Sydney, residential wood heating emits more PM2.5 than all other sources combined, despite only 4.3% of Sydney households using wood as the main form of heating.

PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) have also been linked in developed countries to genetic damage in babies (based on tests ofumbilical cord blood), reduced IQ when children start school, and increased risk of anxiety and behavioural problems. In developing countries, children whose mothers cook with wood (as opposed to kerosene) stoves have reduced IQ, memory and poorer social skills in Belize, Kenya, Nepal and American Samoa, and also in Guatemala.

No safe level of PM2.5 pollution – 25 ug/m3 equivalent to smoking 3 cigarettes/day. Health authorities warn there is no safe level of PM2.5 pollution. Medical doctor & epidemiologist at the University of Newcastle, Dr Ben Ewald, told the Senate Inquiry into air pollution and health that exposure at the current advisory limit of 25 ug/m3 has equivalent mortality risks to actively smoking 3 cigarettes a day. The consultation on particle standards showed overwhelming support for a reduction to 20 ug/m3 PM2.5.

Pollution linked to heart attacks, strokes, cancers, lung diseases & affects babies and children at levels well below 25 ug/m3. Armidale still has many days above the current limit of 25 ug/m3, even more above 20 ug/m3. Few people in Armidale realise that the entire city often suffers air pollution levels worse than everyone smoking 3 cigarettes a day, or than in Canada, woodsmoke levels of 6 to 10 ug/m3 have been found to increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary and increase adversely affect blood vessel health, indicating increased risk of heart disease. There is limited awareness that, as well as increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancers and lung diseases, toxic chemicals in woodsmoke toxic chemicals in woodsmoke known as PAH have been linked to genetic damage in babies and reduced IQ when children start school. Similar problems have been noted in developing countries, where children whose mothers cook with wood (as opposed to kerosene) have reduced IQ, memory and poorer social skills.

1 day's heat = 120,000 cigarettes. Wood smoke was found to cause 12 to 30 times as many tumours in mice and mutations in bacteria as the same amount of cigarette smoke.A single wood heater chimney burning 20 kg wood (a day's heat) emits about 200 grams of PM2.5, as much as in the smoke from 10,000 cigarettes, with the tumour potency of at least 120,000 cigarettes.

Health authorities: current wood heater models too polluting to be allowed. NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant said wood heaters are so detrimental to health she supports banning and phasing them out in built-up urban areas. The NSW Asthma Foundation warned that: wood smoke emissions in winter pose a bigger health danger in built up urban areas than cars or cigarettes. Australian Lung Foundation spokesman Dr James Markos said wood fire heaters should be banned from urban areas. He said real-life emissions from new wood-heaters had little relationship to measurements from a perfectly operated test model under laboratory conditions. The UN Environment Program/World Meteorological Organization (UNEP/WMO) recommended phasing out log-burning heaters in developed countries to reduce global warming as well as improve health.

The NSW Air Emissions Community Web tool (image, below) shows that residential wood heating is responsible for more PM2.5 emissions in Sydney that all other sources combined

 This is despite being used as the main form of heating by only 4.3% of households.