GlenEira

Australian Air Quality Group (AAQG)

Glen Eira City Council Community Local Law 2019 (proposed Community Local Law), Part 7, Clause 38.

Current Local Law requires a Permit for

306. Lighting a Fire or allowing it to remain alight in the open air on any land except in a Barbecue or for the purpose of religious practices - https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/media/4244/local-law-2009-august-2016.pdf

Proposed Local Law

38. Lighting fires
(1) A person must not, without a Permit, — (a) light any Fire; or (b) allow any Fire to be lit; or (c) allow any Fire to remain alight — in the open air on any land.
(2) Subclause (1) does not apply to a— (a) Barbecue; or (b) fire pit, brazier or chiminea on any private land in a Residential Area.
(3) A person must not allow any Barbecue or a fire pit, brazier or chiminea on any private land in a Residential Area to discharge any dust, grit, ash, smoke, effluvium, substance or odour that constitutes a nuisance or is an unreasonable interference with the amenity of any other person - https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/media/4239/community_local_law.pdf


AAQG Submission

Clause 38 of the proposed local law is inconsistent and contradictory because emissions from fire pits, braziers and chimineas contain many known human carcinogens and can pose a serious threat to the health of people living nearby.  The image above compares emissions from burning 1 kg wood in a modern wood stove with those from exposure to second-hand smoke - click to enlarge. Emissions from fire pits, braziers and chimineas are expected to be equally hazardous to health.

Many people think traffic pollution is bad, but wood stoves give off SIX times as much cancer-causing pollution as diesel trucks and they could make people  ill.  Dr Gary Fuller, a leading pollution scientist, has said action must take place 'urgently' as 'lives are at risk'.   A full review of the health costs of permitting wood-burning fire pits in urban areas is therefore required before any changes should be made to clause 38.


Wood smoke is known to exacerbate and cause illnesses including asthma, pneumonia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), other lung and heart diseases, cancers and type 2 diabetes. The fine particles in wood smoke are known as PM2.5 (because they are less than 2.5 millionth of a metre). They are so small they pass into the blood stream and are transported to all organs of the body, causing inflammation and disease.  PM2.5 can be lodged in the brain, affecting brain function including the development and behaviour of children.  PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy is known to be a risk factor for low birthweight, which can affect a child’s development.  This information is readily available on the internet from reputable sources including the WHO.  Our website http://woodsmoke.3sc.net/ contains a comprehensive collection of much of the readily available research.  There are short informative videos in the right hand column of our news page from WHO, UNICEF, EPA NSW and Dr Jim Markos, Australian Lung Foundation.  Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution also have an informative well referenced website https://woodsmokepollution.org/

These harmful effects occur at very low levels of wood smoke exposure. Tasmanian researchers found that hospital admissions for heart failure (the leading cause of hospitalisation for adults aged over 65 years) started to increase as soon as woodsmoke PM2.5 from exceeded 4 ug/m3, which is a tiny fraction of the current Australian PM2.5 standard, and also much less than the pollution a firepit is likely to impose on a downwind neighbour.

Another Tasmanian researcher, Dr Fay Johnston previously described woodsmoke particles as worse than car exhausts. Canadian research found that when most of the pollution came from wood burning a 5 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 pollution was associated with a 19% increase in the risk of heart attacks for people aged 65 and older, noting "the association was stronger when more of the air pollution came from wood burning."

A news report & 2 min video from Canadian BC News, Feb. 27, 2017 warned that: study links wood smoke to senior heart attacks. A New Scientist Report and Video warns: log-burning stoves are harming our health and speeding up global warming (Feb 2017).  UNICEF’s 170 sec video explains: What does Air Pollution PM 2.5 do inside children's body and brain?

Researchers studied 303,887 British men and women, with data on lung health gathered by physical examination and air pollution statistics geographically coded to the participants’ home addresses. Each 5 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 led to a decrease in lung function more than four times greater than the effect of secondhand smoke at home. It was equivalent to 29% of the decrease caused by current smoking and 65% of that caused by being a former smoker – see even Moderate Air Pollution May Lead to Lung Disease.

The “Growing up in New Zealand” study found that every additional modern woodstove per hectare increased by 7% the risk children under 3 would need hospital emergency treatment.

The abstract of a peer-reviewed journal paper shows, that in Sweden, exposure of just 1 ug/m3 of PM2.5 pollution increased the risk of dementia by 55%.

CONCLUSION

Council has a duty of care to inform and protect residents from toxic wood smoke air pollution.  Unfortunately smoke does not have to be visible to be harmful, it can drift close to the ground where we are breathing, and can remain for long periods in cold or still weather.  Wood smoke particles are so small that they behave like gases and (like the air we need to breathe) enter our homes even when all doors and windows are shut.

Council must take into account current knowledge on the serious health impacts of toxic biomass/wood smoke air pollution for which there is no safe level. Council must therefore act on its duty of care, inform the community about the hazards of biomass smoke and eliminate it from the environment (including burning of coal and wood products in barbecues, fire pits, braziers, chimineas, outdoor bread and pizza ovens).

The local law in relation to domestic wood heating should also be reviewed because a major factor in setting current emissions standards was the profitability of the wood heating industry (which has been allowed to veto any changes that it doesn’t like). The current level of emissions does not represent a safe level of pollution, but one that is expected to significantly increase the risk of health damage to people living nearby, with the most serious effects observed in young children and the elderly.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Clicking on the hyperlinks in the underlined text above will take the reader to the sources of the information, which can also be found as hyperlinks in the same text at http://woodsmoke.3sc.net/children


Air pollution is an invisible killer that lurks all around us, preying on the young and old. Learn how it slips unnoticed past our body's defenses causing deaths from heart attack, strokes, lung disease and cancer. Help breathe life back into our cities and take action to protect our health and climate.

Air pollution is an invisible killer that lurks all around us, preying on the young and old. Learn how it slips unnoticed past our body's defenses causing deaths from heart attack, strokes, lung disease and cancer. Help breathe life back into our cities and take action to protect our health and climate.

World Health Organization 90 sec air pollution video


UNICEF - the impact of air pollution on children's brain development and health



Comments