AHHA's Blue Sky "Ignorance"  Be amazed at the latest untrue claim from the AHHA (now removed from their list of "facts" although claiming such nonsense even for a few weeks illustrates the AHHA's propensity to make untrue and unchecked claims to further their profits)  - particles make the sky blue!!! 
   The correct explanation easily found on the web is "much of the shorter wavelength light is absorbed by gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then radiated in different directions. It gets scattered all around the sky. Whichever direction you look, some of this scattered blue light reaches you. Since you see the blue light from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue."  
   The AHHA also continues to spread mis-information about the National Pollutant Inventory's estimates that wood heaters (used as the main form of heating in 2011 by 2.3% of ACT residents) are responsible for 70% (640,000 kg of the total 915,000 kg) of the ACT's PM10 emissions.
    And the AHHA also tries to divert attention away from WHO estimates claiming that "smoke from dirty stoves and fires kills almost 2 million people each year, most of them women and children" by instead noting the much smaller number killed by "smoke from landscape fires".
   And again tries to mislead people about the global warming due to methane emissions from woodheaters, which is such a serious problem that phasing out wood heaters in developed countries was listed as one of the top 16 measures to reduce global warming. 
    Responsible organisations would not spread this kind of incorrect and misleading information to further their profits.
 ACT Greens launch wood smoke initiative  The ACT Greens proposals are about reducing pollution and its corresponding health and environmental problems, to ensure a clean and healthy future,” said ACT Greens Health Spokesperson Amanda Ms Bresnan. 

   The policy document contains recommendations from health authorities and statements from people affected by woodsmoke.  The main proposal is for a much stricter emissions standard of 1 g/kg wood burned.  Other measures suggested for community discussion, include:
  •  Ensuring all new wood heaters are sold with information about the health impacts of wood smoke;
  •  Phasing out non-compliant wood heaters by setting a date by which all wood heaters in the ACT must meet a standard;
  •  Phasing out non-compliant wood heaters by requiring their removal upon the sale of the premises;
  • Allowing the installation of new wood heaters only when they are replacing existing wood heaters, until such time as a new health-based standard has been developed for real-life emissions;
  • Using market mechanisms to reduce wood heater emissions, such as sales tax or licensing of wood heaters  
   This Discussion Paper is a big step forward compared to the existing policy in NSW.  Last year, the Federal Government announced new vehicle standards, which are expected to save $1.5 billion over 20 years, at a cost of $980 added to the price of a new diesel ute/4WD.
   Woodsmoke is an $8 billion health problem in NSW, according to a NSW Government report.  This works out at more than $22,000 for every wood heater in the state.  The reportconcluded that even simple measures such as requiring wood heaters to beremoved when houses are sold could save an estimated $4 billion in NSW, for arelatively minor cost of $36 million (see Tables 26 and 28). 
   If we can crackdown on vehicle pollution - why not the equally dangerous pollution from wood heaters?  The average new wood heater emits as much health-hazardous PM2.5 pollution as several hundred diesel cars or 4WD that satisfy the new standards.

 Wood heaters not permitted in new homes in the ACT's Molonglo Valley development area "due to the significant potential for air pollution from wood smoke".

Only 3.9% of ACT households burned wood in 2008 as the main form of space heating (ABS estimate for 2008) and 2.3% in 2011 (see graph below).  Yet wintertime PM2.5 measurements are almost 3 times higher than summer levels.

ABS data on main source of energy for heating 2011 (click to enlarge) - wood heaters used as the main form of heating by 2.3% of ACT residents

No safe level of PM2.5 pollution
Death rates are estimated to increase by 10% for every additional 10 ug/m3 of PM2.5 exposure.  Currently policies apparently allow a tiny fraction of ACT households to cause substantial ill-health for the entire community.

The National Pollutant Inventory data for 2007-08 show that two thirds of Canberra's health-hazardous PM10 (and by implication PM2.5) and PAH emissions are from domestic solid fuel heating.

PAH emissions (benzene like compounds) are linked to cancers and genetic damage of unborn babies leading to increased risk of asthma, reduced IQ when children start school and behavioural problems such as ADHD.

National Pollutant Inventory graph of PAH emissions (2007-08) for the ACT

Wood is more expensive than other forms of heating
Annual cost of heating a 160 square metre house (with insulated ceiling) int the ACT - Winter 2012:
slow combustion stove $980 
natural gas $752
reverse cycle airconditioning $560 (New efficient system $425, less for a 5-star efficient system)

Canberra Wood Smoke Pollution
Woodsmoke Pollution and your health - video of woodsmoke pollution in Canberra and Armidale and advice from Dr Jim Markos, Australian Lung Foundation

Further information and useful websites
Advice on how to save energy, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions - Canberra's Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT)

Background data and references for the information on this page
Althought the ACT Government issues ‘Don’t burn tonight’ warnings when high pollution is forecast, ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur reported in parliament that there was limited awareness of both this program, and the subsidies offerd to people who switch to non-polluting heating.

With health costs of several thousand dollars per heater per year, even for new woodheaters, it’s hard to understand why the authorities have not introduced a moratorium on the installation of woodheaters until a new-health based standard has been developed.
National Pollutant Inventory Data:  domestic solid fuel burning (i.e. wood heaters) emits 640,000 kg (70%) of the 915,000 kg of Canberra's PM10 emissions.  Click image to access data on NPI website.

Dr D L Robinson,
Apr 3, 2010, 9:18 PM
Dr D L Robinson,
Apr 3, 2010, 11:03 PM