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.
June 2016. Air pollution major contributor to stroke. “In an unprecedented survey of global risk factors for stroke, air pollution in the form of fine particulate matter ranked seventh in terms of its impact on healthy lifespan, while household air pollution from burning solid fuels ranked eighth.....The most alarming finding was that about a third of the burden of stroke is attributable to air pollution. Although air pollution is known to damage the lungs, heart, and brain, the extent of this threat seems to have been underestimated,” they write. “Air pollution is not just a problem in big cities, but is also a global problem. With the ceaseless air streams across oceans and continents, what happens in Beijing matters in Berlin.”
See also the research paper published in the Lancet which shows that in developed countries the increased risk from outdoor air pollution (10.2%) is comparable to that from lack of exercise (11.2%) and much higher than the risk from passive smoking (1.5%). Current standards are nowhere near adequate. In the USA, a Harvard University study showed that the harmful effects of outdoor pollution were observed even in areas where concentrations were less than a third of the current standard set by the US EPA.
June 2016. Research paper investigating what type of air pollution is associated with the greatest increase in visits to hospital emergency departments for lung diseases. "Across four US cities, among the primary PM2.5 sources assessed, biomass burning PM2.5 was most strongly associated with respiratory health."
June 2016. Delta wants more done on wood burning. "It occurred to me we seem to make a great to-do about diesel engines and other industries polluting, and yet, wood smoke, which is originating in the Lower Mainland, is the number one source of particulate in the region," said Mayor Lois Jackson.
June 2016. Father and condo owner wins human rights battle to protect his family from second-hand smoke
“I filed a human rights complaint. They can take months, even years, to process, but luckily just as we were beginning to lose hope, the Human Rights Tribunal contacted me and with their help, we forged a path toward resolution. It began with mediation, and ultimately led to the owners voting to make our complex 100% smoke-free.”
"Since the building has become smoke-free a lot of neighbours have approached me personally and thanked me for speaking up. Some were suffering from second-hand smoke issues in silence, afraid to say anything," added Paulo mentioning how valuable he found the smokefreehousingbc.ca website.
June 2016. 10 MW of wind power might help disperse NZ's woodsmoke - but might be noisy and cost more than a switch to non-polluting heating! If the significant energy inputs (10 MW or more) were instead be used to power 10,000 heat pumps, all the polluting wood burners could be replaced (as recommended by the UN Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization), resulting in no pollution and substantially less greenhouse gas emissions! Otago Regional Council explored "novel methods" to reduce PM10 concentrations, including wind machines to "modify" the inversion and disperse the polluting particles.A total of 58 machines would need to be installed across the entire area in Alexandra needing intervention, with "moderate" effects, the report says.
"There are several complications to the use of wind machines for PM10 intervention. Wind machines are not able to operate in supercooled fog as there is the potential for severe damage to the machine due to ice buildup on the blades. This could limit operation on cold nights, which typically lead to high PM10 concentrations. In addition, because wind machines have only been investigated for use in agricultural settings, it is uncertain how effective wind machines would be at modifying inversion characteristics in the complex surface environment of an urban area."
The machines were also noisy so could cause a "significant problem" with getting consent. Each of scheme assessed, would require significant energy inputs (on the order of 10 MW or more) and would need to be run continuously during periods of strong inversions and resultant periods of limited dispersion - conditions typical of Alexandra winter nights, he said.
See also: Central Otago’s proposed Plan B is laughable.
June 2016. Barbecues make popular London park 'more polluted than city streets'. "Concerned residents and Islington Council both sought the help of experts at King’s College London for monitoring equipment to test levels of PM2.5, fine particulate matter that can increase the risks of heart attacks and strokes in those that inhale it.
In a report, produced using readings taken by residents last summer, experts at the university’s BreatheLondon Project concluded that “residents are experiencing elevated levels of PM2.5 due to barbecues”. There were “extremely high levels” recorded in close proximity of the lit barbeques, but also “some evidence of elevated concentrations” inside nearby homes.
Residents have also obtained an earlier draft of the report, which they say is even more damning. This concluded: “Mean concentrations recorded over the whole monitoring period were higher in Highbury Fields than even at the kerbside of a busy London trunk route.”
April 2016. Lessons from Los Angeles: Fighting pollution helps children. "Despite doubling its population, Los Angles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties saw decreases in the following pollutants over 20 years: • 47 percent in PM2.5 • 49 percent in nitrogen oxides • 35 percent in PM10 • 12 percent in ozone
Researchers tracked 4,602 children in eight distinct communities in three groups as they aged from 5 to 18 and looked at children with asthma and those without. They also factored in race, exposure to secondhand smoke, and socio-economic demographics.
What they found is the decrease in fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, was correspondingly accompanied by a 32 percent decrease in bronchitic symptoms experienced by children with asthma. For those without asthma, there was a 21 percent reduction in respiratory problems."
Research paper (JAMA): Association of Changes in Air Quality With Bronchitic Symptoms in Children in California, 1993-2012.
April 2016. Clean air advocacy group addresses regional district. Annual State of the Air reports by the BC Lung Association also show that, of 40 communities measured in the province, Courtenay is one of the five worst for fine particulate pollution. BC’s Healthlink states that “particulate matter is considered the air pollutant of greatest concern to human health in B.C.” In the Comox Valley, wood smoke is the source of high particulate readings.
In addition to fine particulates, wood smoke contains many of the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes. BC Lung Association materials note that wood smoke contains volatile organic compounds such as furans, dioxins, benzene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are carcinogenic. It also contains harmful formaldehyde and nitrogen oxides.
“Breathing in so many fine particulates can affect the development of children’s lungs, increase respiratory infections, increase the risk of heart attacks and much more. And 50-70 per cent of what’s outside, gets inside a house,” said Ellis.
“Additionally, one fireplace burning 10 pounds of wood in an hour will produce almost as many carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as 3,000 packs of cigarettes.”
April 2016. Nobel prizewinner, renowned climate scientist and sustainability expert call for immediate action to reduce greenhouse super-pollutants to stave off climate calamity.
Nobel prize-winning scientist Mario Molina joins discoverer of the greenhouse effect of halocarbons, V. Ramanathan, and the president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, Durwood Zaelke, in calling for immediate action to cut four super-pollutants, which could make the difference between a reasonably safe climate and one that carries staggering human and financial costs.
"All countries must keep their commitments to pursue aggressive cuts to carbon dioxide under the Paris Agreement. Yet even under full implementation, global temperatures will increase between about 4.5 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, far above the 3.6-degree guard rail. The best and fastest way to prevent immediate climate destabilization lies in cutting back on emissions of super pollutants that make outsize contributions to warming despite the fact that they are produced in much smaller quantities than carbon dioxide. They include ground-level ozone and black carbon soot, from sources such as power plants and diesel engines, as well as methane (often from natural gas systems and agriculture) and hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs) in air conditioning and other systems.
"Cutting carbon dioxide emissions remains imperative, and cannot be delayed. Yet the parallel strategy of reducing super pollutants is perhaps even more important to avert disastrous consequences in the near-term."
March 2016. Bay Area landlords real estate agents required to disclose the health hazards of wood smoke. "Beginning June 1, anyone selling or leasing residential property within the Bay Area will be required to disclose the health hazards of wood smoke, as part of the signed disclosure documents in real estate purchase or rental transactions."
March 2016. Air pollution not just bad for your lungs. Exposure to air pollution for just a month or two may still be enough to increase the risk of developing diabetes, especially for obese people, a recent U.S. study suggests. ... It’s possible that air pollution causes inflammation in the body, which triggers a chain reaction that makes it harder for people to process blood sugar, said senior study author Dr. Frank Gilliland, director of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center and researcher at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles ... PM 2.5 exposure was significantly associated with diabetes risk factors, with an effect equivalent to that of obesity ... Indoors, people should use what’s known as a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on furnaces or air conditioning units, or buy stand-alone units for bedrooms, Jerrett said. These mechanical filters force air through a fine mesh that can trap harmful pollutants, but there’s a limit to how much individuals can do, he said. “Air pollution is an involuntary risk factor,” Jerrett said. “We all breathe the air, and this should create a stronger incentive for government to take action to reduce emissions that lead to air pollution.”
March 2016. Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution. "Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. The health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution have a high cost to people who suffer from illness and premature death, to our health services and to business. In the UK, these costs add up to more than £20 billion every year.
Extract from the report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health:
"The increasing popularity of wood burning for heating, in part due to policies to reduce CO2 emissions, risks undoing some of the air quality improvements that have resulted from widespread adoption of gas for domestic heating. Particles from wood burning can now be found each winter in our urban air, mainly at weekends, with wood burning accounting for between 7 and 9% of London’s wintertime particle pollution. Studies have shown that smoke from wood heating enters neighbouring homes, providing a clear exposure pathway.[28,29]"
March 2016. Tacoma's winter pollution: 53% wood smoke, 5% diesel. "our wood smoke study (TNT, 3-4) was focused on the total health risks of fine-particulate matter, of which diesel is not the largest contributor in the winter months. In fact, 53 percent of this pollution comes from wood smoke and only 5 percent comes from diesel.
"Second, contrary to popular belief, wood-burning might be carbon neutral only if replacement trees are planted. In fact, wood-burning might be far more harmful for climate change than the writer thinks.
"Burning wood emits more carbon dioxide (per unit of energy) than coal or natural gas. If the climate change goal is to immediately start to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and particulate matter being emitted, it is better not to burn wood but instead to use it as a carbon sink by letting it quietly rot in the ground." Robin Evans-Agnew, Chris Eberhardt, Tacoma (Lead researchers of the wood smoke study project).
March 2016. "Tens of thousands of people are dying every year because repeated warnings about the dangers of diesel cars and wood-burning for heating were ignored by successive governments trying to make Britain ‘greener’, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
"Ironically, the policies have only made our air dirtier. They are accused of triggering a ‘public health disaster’, with the huge shift to diesel vehicles to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions denounced as a ‘con’.
"Last week, a devastating official report said the drive for diesel and wood-burning are directly responsible for needlessly high incidences of a shocking list of conditions including diabetes, autism, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, learning difficulties, asthma, low birth weight and kidney disease."
March 2016. Taxing wood-burning stoves could save lives and money. A tax on wood-burning stoves could save 300 lives a year and save society nearly 6 billion kroner annually in environmental costs, according to research by the environmental economic council Miljøøkonomiske Råd. Measuring stove use would be done by installing a gauge in the chimney that would measure the number of hours the stove was in use.
March 2016. Mom calls for ban on outdoor fires in Saskatoon. "Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal all ban outdoor fires in urban areas, generally citing air quality concerns. In those cities, barbecues are still permitted, and there are permits available for fires on special or religious occasions.
"Jill Hubick, a registered nurse with the Lung Association of Saskatchewan, said wood smoke contains many potential irritants and carcinogens. As such, she said the association would like to see outdoor burning banned in residential areas. She said it's generally not good enough to simply expect people with lung conditions to remain indoors.
"Smoke doesn't have any boundaries. Even if you close your windows and close your doors and go inside - it's going to seep into the individual's home," she said.
"With one-in-three people in Saskatchewan expected to be affected by a lung condition in their lifetime, Hubick said the issue is big enough that the Lung Association has started a coalition to push for a ban."
March 2016. Is your football team playing badly? It may be air pollution. "In almost half of the matches covered (44%), the level ranged between 20 and 50 micrograms per cubic metre, the latter figure being the European Union regulation threshold for particulate pollution. This threshold was exceeded in 7% of the matches .... The economists found that player performance was impeded by pollution even at levels well below these health limits. And at high levels – above the EU threshold – there was a significantly noticeable decline equivalent in performance, by as much as 16%."
Feb 2016. Is your wood burner killing you? Smoke from stove linked to deadly cancers, asthma and diabetes. The much loved home wood burners are contributing towards air pollution that is killing around 40,000 people per year.
Diseases such as asthma, cancer and diabetes have all been linked to illnesses invoked by the harmful pollution that is released from the burners.
The health impacts of pollutants found outside the home such as those from vehicle exhausts, are widely known to cause at least 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK. Close to 10 per cent of wintertime particle pollution created in London comes from wood burning and the fumes also spread to neighbouring houses.
The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health released the report on air pollution. While experts at the University of Southampton and Queen Mary University of London claimed that wood burning was a 'concern' when looking at future energy demands. They wrote: "[Wood burning in fires and stoves] liberates significant amounts of particulate pollution into the outdoor air."
Feb 2016. Bay Area pollution regulators will offer homeowners thousands of dollars to replace old wood fireplaces and stoves with cleaner heating devices such as gas fire logs.
Feb 2016. Recipient of first pollution ticket was using new wood stove obtained under a woodstove replacement program - apt demonstration that new stoves also cause unacceptable pollution and that the only effective way to reduce the health damage from air pollution is to provide subsidies only to people who replace wood stoves (old or new) with non-polluting heating.
Feb 2016. The truth about London's air pollution. "Awareness of the invisible problem is vital, says Barratt: “If you have awareness and concern then people are more likely to accept political strategies which will infringe upon their lives. If politicians come along and say they are going to restrict diesels in their city but the population doesn’t believe there is a problem, they will say no.” ... “The life-shortening effects of air pollution are equivalent if not greater than the risks of inactivity and obesity and alcoholism,” he says. “They should be in that bundle.”
See also: Pollutionwatch: Please don’t keep the home fires burning Between Christmas and New Year traffic pollution declined in the early evening, but airborne particles continued to increase until just before midnight, indicative of smoke from household fires. This was especially apparent across the south in Bristol, Eastbourne, Oxford and Reading and also in Cardiff, Southampton and parts of London. In Eastbourne particle concentrations quadrupled each evening; in Bristol they increased by more than five times. Domestic wood burning takes place where people live, at the times when everyone else is at home. Even modest wood burning in densely populated areas can lead to harmful pollution exposures comparable to those from traffic. Home wood burning needs to be addressed before more people invest in stoves or make open fires a feature in their living rooms.
Jan 2016.To ease pollution and protect health consider alternatives to burning wood for heat. ... The agency recommends that good neighbors eliminate or limit the amount of wood smoke they produce. “Most wood heaters, such as woodstoves and fireplaces, release far more air pollution, indoors and out, than heaters using other fuels,” it stated. “In winter, when people heat their homes the most, cold nights with little wind cause smoke and air pollutants to remain stagnate at ground level for long periods.” In families where individuals suffer from chronic or repeated respiratory problems, like asthma or emphysema, or have heart disease, wood should not be burned at all.
Jan 2016. UK: 2.4 times more PM2.5 pollution from domestic wood burning than traffic. "Revised figures show domestic wood burning to be the UK’s largest single source of PM2.5 emissions, 2.4 times greater than all PM2.5 emissions from traffic ... The sooner policymakers recognize the disproportionate contribution of wood stoves to PM2.5 pollution (a tiny minority of UK households using wood stoves emit over twice as much PM2.5 as all the UK’s cars, trucks and buses), recognize the disproportionate health costs – thousands of pounds per wood stove per year – and consequently heed the UNEP/WMO recommendation to phase our log-burning stoves in developed countries, the better it will be for our health and the health of our planet."
January 2016. Log fires or traffic fumes: what's the real cause of Bergen's air pollution? The air quality in Norway’s second largest city, Bergen, grew so bad earlier this month that the council surprised residents by introducing a week-long, alternate-day plan for private vehicles. But the reality is rather different: new research shows that in Norway, the burning of logs in homes is a far bigger contributor to the problem than traffic – and more damaging to residents’ health. Recently, the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) published statistics showing that “particulate matter from log burning in cities is more dangerous than pollution from traffic”. Research by Statistics Norway (SSB), meanwhile, concluded that 61% of the particulate matter in Norway’s air stems from its 1.7 million existing log fires, compared to 39% from private vehicles, buses and lorries.
January 2016. Metro Vancouver plans wood burning crackdown. "Wood fireplace owners who smoke up the neighbourhood may be in for a fight with Metro Vancouver. Air quality planners at the regional district will propose to gradually restrict wood burning in the region to reduce the health hazard posed by fine particulate. ...
"Most new fireplaces being installed are natural gas or electric rather than wood, but Metro staff are also contemplating whether to recommend building code and municipal bylaws ban wood ones entirely. "Should there be any wood-burning fireplaces in new construction at all? We feel there shouldn't be," Quan said.
"Public awareness is also part of the strategy. Metro now issues air quality bulletins for wood smoke when cold stagnant air is expected to produce smoky conditions. The first bulletin was issued in late November."
1 January 2016. Summary of PM2.5 measurements in 2015.
PM2.5 measurements (graph, left) show that the NSWEPA-funded woodsmoke program in Muswellbrook (a mining town supplying coal to power stations that generate enough electricity for 3.25 million homes) has not reduced PM2.5 pollution. Although only a few hundred houses are believed to use woodheating, chemical fingerprinting showed that woodsmoke was the major source (62%) of Muswellbrook's PM2.5. Health-hazardous PM2.5 are still substantially higher during the wood heating season. The EPA-funded program has clearly not persuaded wood-heater uses to switch to non-polluting heating or operate their wood heaters more carefully. The valuable lessons learned in Launceston are being forgotten - that the only effective way to reduce woodsmoke pollution is to switch to non-polluting heating; trying to persuade people to operate heaters correctly has little benefit.
Muswellbrook had 3 exceedances of the PM2.5 standard, all in winter:
The highest number of exceedances of the PM2.5 standard in NSW in 2015 was, Armidale, where woodsmoke pollution resulted in 34 days > 25 ug/m3:
24/5/15 35, 25/5/15 27, 3/6/15 33, 4/6/15 27, 6/6/15 26, 8/6/15 33, 21/6/15 49, 22/6/15 50, 23/6/15 36, 24/6/15 38, 25/6/15 26, 28/6/15 28, 16/7/15 26, 28/7/15 31, 29/7/15 28, 1/8/15 33, 2/8/15 30, 11/8/15 28, 15/8/15 35, 16/8/15 46, 17/8/15 31, 26/8/15 34, 27/8/15 26, 28/8/15 51, 29/8/15 64, 30/8/15 59, 31/8/15 35, 1/9/15 26, 4/9/15 26, 5/9/15 28, 6/9/15 31, 7/9/15 30, 12/9/15 26, 15/9/15 26)
Other locations that exceeded the PM2.5 standard were:
Stockton:3 27/6/15 27, 4/7/15 27.4, 5/7/15 30.9
Liverpool 2: 7/6/15 30.2, 21/8/15 32.2
Mayfield 2: 22/8/15 27.7, 20/12/15 30.2
Earlwood 2: 30/6/15 25.1 21/8/15 28.0
Carrington 1: 22/8/15 30.7
Rozelle 1: 21/8/15 33.4
Chullora 1: 21/8/15 37.2
Newcastle 1: 22/8/15 28.4
Beresfield 1: 21/8/15 25.9
Wollongong 1: 21/8/15 31.6
Locations with no measurements above 25 ug/m3:
Wyong 0, Wallsend 0, Richmond 0, Singleton 0, Camberwell 0, Wagga 0, Camden 0.
January 2016. How Do You Fight The World's 'Largest Environmental Health Problem'? Harness The Sun. Every day, nearly half the people in the world prepare their meals over burning wood, charcoal or animal dung. And every year, more than 4 million people -- most of them women and children -- die prematurely from the resulting household smoke. The practice also contributes to deforestation and climate change. Cooking with energy from the sun could soon put a major dent in what some experts call the world's greatest environmental health issue.
January 2016. 1st ‘Spare the Air' alert of the season called; wood-burning prohibited
December 2015. UK domestic wood burning emits 2.3 times more PM2.5 than traffic! The UK's Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs' statistical release 'Emissions of air pollutants in the UK, 1970 to 2014' reports that domestic wood burning emitted 35,900 tonnes of PM2.5 in 2013, 2.4 times as much as all PM2.5 from traffic. Above average winter temperatures in 2014 resulted in a slightly lower at 34,000 tonnes, 2.3 times as much as traffic's PM2.5. Although the report does not explain the massive upward revision in PM2.5 emissions from domestic wood burning, it seems likely that real-life emissions from wood burning stove have been found to be much higher than previously thought. With 38,700 premature deaths attributed to PM2.5 pollution in the UK and domestic wood burning responsible for over twice as many PM2.5 in the UK as all cars, trucks and buses, the best option for UK residents would be to phase out log-burning stoves to improve health, reduce air pollution and reduce global warming.
December 2015. Doctor’s Orders: Wood Burning Hazardous to Your Health. "Here is a brief message to share with your wood burning neighbors. If you are not a smoker, burning wood is probably the greatest threat to your own health of anything that you can do. But it is also a threat to your children and your neighbors, as inappropriate and intolerable as blowing cigarette smoke in their faces all winter long. Your neighbors are less than enthusiastic about sacrificing their health for your freedom to burn wood. Living in a civilized society means they shouldn’t have to."
December 2015. Italy: Town bans pizza-making over soaring pollution. An edict issued by the mayor of San Vitaliano, just outside of Naples, bans the use of wood-fired stoves in bakeries and eateries including pizzerias unless their owners install special filters to reduce air pollution. Bad air quality is a longstanding problem for San Vitaliano. According to Il Mattino newspaper, it is more polluted than Beijing, while nearby Naples - usually seen as one of Italy's worst offenders in terms of air quality - seems like "a perfumed garden" in comparison. In 2015, San Vitaliano exceeded the threshold for emissions 114 times, compared to 86 times in Milan, another badly polluted Italian city, the paper says.
December 2015. Odd or even? Not trucks, not cars, studies blame wood smoke and power plants as top polluters. NEW DELHI: Less than a fortnight before the odd-even formula for private cars is implemented in Delhi to curb pollution levels in the city, three studies have found that the actual culprit in winters is not vehicular emissions.
Two reports — one by former faculty members of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and the other by US, Indian and University of Birmingham researchers — said wood smoke is the prime contributor to the presence of PM 2.5 — fine particles with a width of 2.5 .
December 2015. Agreed Statement, Environment Ministers Meeting. Ministers agreed to measures to reduce air pollution from wood heaters, including the adoption of new emission and efficiency standards for new wood heaters and sharing best management practices across jurisdictions. This approach encourages innovation and sharing of cost effective approaches and allows each jurisdiction to tailor actions for local conditions and priorities.
December 2015. COMMENT: Air pollution is now the invisible killer. Mehreen Faruki, Newcastle Herald. Poor air quality is costing us our lives, health and money. It is responsible for 3000 Australians’ deaths and costs more than $5 billion every year. Some of the worst culprits include wood fire heaters which produce the majority of Sydney’s fine particle pollution during winter
December 2015. Air quality in Europe — 2015 report, European Environment Agency. Table 9.2 (left, click to enlarge) show an estimated 37,800 premature deaths from PM2.5 pollution in the UK, nearly 3 times as many as the 14,100 from NO2 pollution. UK traffic pollution is decreasing, but wood stove pollution (responsible for 17% of PM2.5 emissions, compared to 18% from traffic) is increasing. Tackling this major source of PM2.5 pollution, e.g. by following the UN Environment Program recommendation to phase out log-burning stoves in developed countries, would be one of quickest and most cost-effective way to prevent deaths from air pollution in the UK.
December 2015. Where there's smoke, there may be bronchitis. Smokers and nonsmokers around wood smoke were 9 percent more likely to have trouble breathing — and specifically 11 percent more likely to suffer bronchitis symptoms. "The effect is all the more worrisome given that COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S ... The important lesson is that the adverse respiratory effects exist in residences of rural mountainous communities across the United States,” said Dr. Akshay. “Before we thought that COPD was just (from) cigarette smoke, but now we can see that it’s really quite something more.” “We were surprised by the strength of the association, which was largely comparable to the effect size seen in developing countries,” Dr. Akshay added. “Our study was done in Albuquerque and surrounding communities and our suspicion is that wood smoke is higher in rural communities and mountainous locations, such as the Rocky Mountain Belt and Appalachia.
December 2015. Wood smoke presents major health hazard. Jennifer Lawson of the Cowichan Fresh Air Team said, “Wood smoke is like tobacco smoke; there is no safe level for wood smoke.” Later she added, “Breathing wood smoke is smoking, we need legislative change.” She called for bylaws that would disallow fire places or wood stoves in new homes, or from being installed in existing homes, and ban outdoor burning.
Commenting on a suggestion that instead of an exchange program swapping old wood stoves for new units, North Cowichan should look at a program that would encourage switch overs to new, clean technologies like heat pumps, Mayor Jon Lefebure said his stance is changing. “I have come to the point where I agree with Ms. Lawson that I don’t feel good when we exchange an old wood stove for a new wood stove,” he said.
November 2015. $10 stove responds to wood smoke’s risks. In 2013 Carlos Glatt became a first-hand witness to the harmful effects of cooking with firewood. He was part of a group of volunteers distributing food to the victims and survivors of Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel in the state of Guerrero.
Touched by the case of a 14-year-old teen with “lung pain,” Glatt decided to design a greener alternative to the wood stove.
His product, called La Estufita GlattStove, or the Little GlattStove, looks like a large can and is fueled by a liquid, natural gas-based fuel that, Glatt claims, pollutes less than wood and even propane.
Glatt plans to sell 50% of his production through supermarkets and convenience stores at US $10; a liter of fuel will sell for $1.
The other half will be sold to economically-marginalized communities at a much-reduced price through the collaboration of donors who will pay 90% of the stove’s price; consumers will be able to purchase it for just $1.
November 2015. My view: Even a little air pollution harms everyone. Brian Moench, Utah Physicians for A Healthy Environment. Here’s a take-home message. Pollution is not just a problem during our thick winter inversions, as this study clearly showed. Even a little air pollution does a little harm to many, if not all of us, and can do much harm to those at high risk. Air pollution makes people sick in multiple ways. All the major organs are affected. It can be lethal by causing heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, cancer and multiple other maladies, beginning with intrauterine development and impairment of the basic building blocks of life, the chromosomes.
Most state and federal regulatory schemes assume everyone in the community breathes the same pollution, therefore facing the same health risk. But on a supposedly “green” day for the community at large, there can be pockets of pollution that would make Beijing blush ... As we enter the winter season, many people will also be taking a real “hit from their neighbors,” homeowners who crank up wood stoves and fireplaces. Research has shown that if you are downwind of a neighbor or restaurant that burns wood, you may be inhaling pollution levels up to 100 times greater than what is measured at the nearest monitoring station. Other research shows that most of that pollution can penetrate inside your home and stay there long after a storm cleans out the air in the valley.
Furthermore, not all pollution is created equal. Wood smoke is by far the most toxic type of pollution that most people ever breathe, much more biologically reactive than secondhand cigarette smoke....
November 2015. 15 Advantages of a Natural Gas Fireplace. "We know that a warm fireplace can make your home feel comfortable during the winter. However, wood burning fireplaces present major health risks. If you are a frequent fireplace user, check out these 15 advantages of a natural gas fireplace and consider making the switch!
November 2015. The dangers of the flu. If people use a fireplace or wood stove, those are major irritants to people with lung disease. Even outdoor woodsmoke is an irritant. New Hampshire’s population has one of the highest exposures to outdoor woodsmoke, which can exacerbate breathing issues for those already dealing with respiratory illness.
If you have COPD, emphysema, asthma or any respiratory condition, try to avoid burning wood or being exposed to wood smoke."
“Every time that you burn wood, it's going to have an impact on the air quality, and if people are outside they actually experience poor health aspects of it,” Spangler said.
Petition: STOP NEW WOOD HEATERS EMITTING MORE POLLUTION IN A FEW HOURS THAN THE AVERAGE CAR IN AN ENTIRE YEAR
October 2015. Researcher questions planned burns. University of Tasmania Menzies Institute for Medical Research public health physician and environmental epidemiologist Fay Johnston said if one accepted a higher mortality rate in the Latrobe Valley during and after the months of the blaze, one would also have to accept that planned fuel reduction burning in Australia carried a significant mortality risk for the population.
Dr Johnston said there were numerous examples of planned burn smoke impacts of similar magnitude to the mine fire.
"There is no evidence that concentration-response relationships for particulate matter from landscape fires and mortality are substantially different from particulate matter from background urban sources," Dr Johnston said.
October 2015. Reducing global health risks through mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants World Health Organization Report highlights the need to reduce emissions short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP), including black carbon, methane, and ozone. SLCP are responsible for a substantial fraction of climate change as well as for a significant proportion of air-pollution related deaths and diseases that kill some 7 million people per year. The report again highlights the measures recommended by the UNEP report, including clean cookstoves in developing countries, preventing methane leaks from mines, pipelines and landfills, banning open burning of agricultural waste, cleaner transport and phasing out log-burning stoves in developed countries. Dr Flavia Bustreo, assistant director-general at WHO, commented: “Every day, these pollutants threaten the health of men, women and children. For the first time, this report recommends actions that countries, health and environment ministries, and cities can take right now to reduce emissions, protect health and avoid illness and premature deaths, which often take the greatest toll on the most vulnerable.”
October 2015. California: Wood fireplaces and stoves banned in new buildings. "The aim of the regulations ... is to limit emissions of the fine particles in smoke produced by combustion of wood and other solid fuels and wood products, such as pellets. This particulate matter can find its way into a person’s lungs and bloodstream and is linked to greater risk of heart attack, stroke, asthma, respiratory distress and other lung conditions, including cancer, according to the American Lung Association.
“It has a myriad of health impacts, like cigarette smoke,” air district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius said.
And it’s the No. 1 source of air pollution during the winter months, the air district said.
“It’s nasty,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a member of the air district board of directors, which unanimously approved the rule amendments Wednesday. “And it’s a lot more nasty than most people realize.”
The district board also approved a $3 million grant program to help offset the cost to homeowners of swapping out polluting stoves and fireplaces with gas, propane or electric heaters — or at least EPA-certified wood-burning devices, where no other heating option is available. .... Home sales and rental contracts also must include disclosure about the health hazards of fine particulate matter from wood smoke .... Effective Nov. 1, 2018, rental properties in natural gas service areas must have an alternative heating device other than wood burning....
The Lung Association was among more than a dozen health organizations that lauded the new rules, local spokeswoman Jenny Bard said.“We have been involved on this issue for two decades, and we receive calls every winter from residents whose health is impacted by their neighbors’ wood burning,” the association said. “This is a serious health issue, and we appreciate the Air District’s leadership to reduce exposures.”
October 2015. WOOD heaters could be banned across Armidale after smoke pollution exceeded national health standards in 13 out of 14 days monitored. We can’t go on living in this filthy air now Armidale’s ‘dirty little secret’ is out,” Armidale Dumaresq councillor Margaret O’Connor said.
Together with councillor Peter O’Donohue, she is leading the charge to ban all wood heaters across Armidale by 2030.
The councillors want to ban wood heaters installed in all new homes and also ban the installation of any new wood heaters.
October 2015. Asthma Australia - wood heaters - a bigger scandal than VW. There is an even bigger air pollution scandal in Australia than the one perpetrated by Volkswagen, according to the Australian Air Quality Group.Air Quality Group spokesperson, Dr Dorothy Robinson, says that household wood heating is the largest single source of fine particle pollution (the most health-hazardous air pollutant) emissions in many towns and cities.
Dr Robinson says a wood heater can produce as much toxic air pollution in one day as a car does in a year and, like the VW scandal, laboratory tests on wood burning heaters fail to give a true picture of their emissions under real life operation.
“The true extent of the problem is highlighted by Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing that only 4 per cent of households in Sydney burn wood as the main form of heating. “Yet according to the NSW EPA, residential wood heating is responsible for over half of fine particle emissions in Sydney, every year.
Asthma Foundation NSW supports three key recommendations to the NSW Woodsmoke Control Options that would together reduce wood smoke health costs by 75%. These include:
Removal of existing heaters that do not meet a health-based standard when houses are offered for sale.
Not allowing the installation of new heaters that do not meet a health-based standard and a tax on all wood heaters that do not meet current standards.
Licencing fees to cover the cost of wood smoke-reduction programs with assistance for people whose health or lifestyle has been affected by wood smoke.
“We need to protect the public from the detrimental health impacts of wood heater pollution. The failure to recall and repair wood heaters found to be up to 10 times more polluting than their certified values, needs to be addressed” Ms Goldman said.
A new study by a science team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory shows that he particulates found in urban smoke are especially prone to absorbing sunlight and having a heating effect on the planet. The new analysis demonstrates that wood burning emits organic species that coat soot particles produced by diesel combustion, creating a lens to focus sunlight and increase warming. The study also shows that the magnification is increased as the particles age and are coated with more airborne chemicals.
“This is a double whammy,” said project leader Manvendra Dubey. “The transparent organics amplify soot’s warming by lensing, and then we have this very stable brown carbon that causes additional warming. We clearly elucidate the detailed processes that makes the carbon particle much more potent warming agents and provide a framework to capture them in climate models.”
The researchers used state-of-the-art instruments in field studies near London tracking an urban plume as it moved across Europe. The observed lensing effect was successfully reproduced by theoretical calculations and laboratory measurements.
The paper also underscored the need for multiple field studies in more diverse environments with mixed carbon sources. Dubey noted that a similar study published in the journal Science in 2012 saw no enhanced light absorption in soot particles in California in the summer. He said that the key difference is that the sampled region did not have the solid wood combustion that was pervasive in the United Kingdom during wintertime.
October 2015 Hoosier, Indiana: new grant program to encourage replacement of dirty Outdoor Wood Boilers with clean, renewable energy. The Hoosier Environmental Council and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest — with the support of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club — launched an innovative, new grant program to financially encourage owners of dirty Outdoor Wood Boilers to replace their systems with clean, renewable energy. Selected awardees could receive up to 100% funding for replacing their old OWBs with new solar, geothermal, or geothermal/solar combination systems. Learn more — and apply — at this dedicated microsite, “It’s Doable, Go Renewable”!
–Public Health Toxicologist David Brown, Sc.D., an expert in wood smoke: “Some of the health effects reported…include awakening at night with coughing, headaches, inability to catch breath, continual sore throats, bronchitis and colds requiring children to stay home from school. In some cases the breathing difficulty has gone into asthma attacks requiring emergency-room treatment. Even episodes of short-term exposures to extreme levels of fine particulates from wood smoke and other sources, for periods as short as two hours, can produce significant adverse effects.”
-Oncologist D. Barry Boyd, MD: “In addition to the fine particulate matter, wood smoke contains a number of organic compounds that are potential or recognized carcinogens. Exposure over time may raise the risk not only of chronic lung disease but also of lung cancer. As well, wood smoke interferes with normal lung development in infants and children. It increases children’s risk of lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Wood smoke exposure can depress the immune system and damage the layer of cells in the lungs that protect and cleanse the airways.”
Other Struggles Facing Victims of OWB Wood Smoke: • People boarding up their homes to try to keep out smoke.
• Working class families spending money that could have been used to buy food or clothing are forced to buy expensive air filtration systems to protect their families from the plumes of smoke coming at them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One HEPA replacement filter can alone cost $90.
September 2015. New Brunswick Power, Canada, launches heat pump rebate program. NB Power is starting a new program that is expected to help people save on electricity costs. The utility is offering a $500 rebate on the purchase of a high-efficiency heat pump.
"The heat pumps [in this campaign] are going to stand the test of our crazy temperatures. Everyone has seen a day in the winter where it hits –20 C, especially the last two or three years we've had weird winters where temperatures have gone lower than normal," said Mudge.
"We wanted to make sure the heat pumps homeowners in New Brunswick are purchasing are going to make sense for them to use in our type of climate."
September 2015. David Attenborough and Professor Brian Cox call for Major Program to Combat Climate Change
In a 2-minute video, David Attenborough explains that our world and its wildlife are in danger because of climate change. In the 1960s, scientists overcame immense odds to put men on the moon. A similar effort is now needed to combat climate change. If we make renewable energy cheaper than coal, fossil fuels will stay in the ground.
David Attenborough, Professor Cox, and many other leaders of business, science and industry have put their names to a call for an investment of $15 billion a year over 10 years to make this happen. For much less than the $100 billion per year currently spent on defence, we could save our planet from climate change. The money invested in research would not only pay for itself, but provide significant economic benefits.
Leaders of the world are urged to commit, by the Paris climate conference in December, to the positive, practical initiative, named the Global Apollo Program, in honour of the 1960s program that saw men walking on the moon. It's a short, but very powerful message that needs to be heard.
September 2015. More people die from air pollution than Malaria and HIV/Aids. A new study shows that more than 3 million people a year are killed prematurely by outdoor air pollution, more than malaria and HIV/Aids combined. Details published in the prestigious journal 'Nature' reveal that The 1,002,370 from residential energy (presumably wood and coal smoke), more than double the 464,748 premature deaths from power generation and much higher than the 226,137 from industry, 179,268 from biomass burning and 163,852 from land traffic. See also Heating, Cooking Are Top Contributors to Air-Pollution Deaths Worldwide.
September 2015. Scotland’s environment minister has praised “significant progress” on reducing air pollution since 1990, with a new report showing emissions of most pollutants continued to fall in 2013. However, the report also shows that in more recent years the rate of reduction for several pollutants – such as NMVOCs, PM10 and ammonia – has slowed. The report highlights increasing quantities of domestic wood burning as a factor in flatlining PM10 emission levels.
Launched alongside Defra’s consultation on draft air quality plans for the UK which also started this week (see AirQualityNews.com story), the Scottish Government’s six-week consultation runs until November 9 2015.
September 2015. Outdoor gas and propane gas fireplaces to be allowed in Port Colborne, but not wood. Many councillors said that they received more comments from residents that were against allowing open-air burning, and that many of those residents cited health and safety issues ... overruling idea that health and safety ought to come first prevailed, and council noted it is difficult to create a bylaw that would deal with people who are simply inconsiderate.
September 2015. Despite Stricter Air Standards, US residents still dying from air pollution. The survey of more than 500,000 Americans shows that as air pollution levels rise in the areas where they live, rates of death rise ... Every extra 10 ug/m3 PM2.5 raised the risk of heart death by 10% and overall death by 3%, according to the study published in the government journal Environmental Health Perspectives. "We need to better inform policymakers about the types and sources of particulate pollution so they know where to focus regulations," said Richard Hayes, a professor of population health and environmental medicine at NYU Langone.
September 2015. Are cheap sensors and concerned citizens leading to a shift in air monitoring? Responding to an explosion of low-cost, easy-to-use sensors to monitor air quality in recent years, US EPA scientists are studying the accuracy of these “next-generation air monitors,” and how the data collected might be used to improve communities and, eventually, affect how air quality is monitored and regulated
September 2015. Guest editorial: Wood burning -- it's time to let it go. Article by Dr. Brian Moench, President, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. "Recently Summit County took a bite out of tradition and a bite out of air pollution and approved a bold new ordinance that would prohibit solid fuel burning devices (think wood and coal in stoves and fireplaces) in new construction. This is an important step forward to cleaning our air, and we will all be better off for it. ... If you don't smoke, burning wood is probably the worst thing you can do to your own health. As Elsa sings in the movie Frozen, it's time to "Let it go."
September 2015. Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD Receives Federal Grant to Study Toxic Pollutants From Wood Smoke in Sacramento. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) a $360,000 grant to study toxic pollutants from wood smoke in Sacramento.
Residential wood smoke is Sacramento’s main source of wintertime air pollution and it is suspected to be the main source of some hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), including acetaldehyde, acrolein, acetonitrile, and naphthalene. This study, to be conducted during one winter season beginning in November 2016, will provide a better understanding of air toxics from wood smoke and wood burning behavior in select environmental justice communities based on federal environmental justice data.
September 2015. Rebates boosted to get more wood-fuelled heaters replaced in Canberra. "The Government has increased the rebate from $800 for a gas-ducted system to $1,100, so it's quite a sizeable inducement to remove those old wood heaters ..."And for a single gas appliance replacing a wood heater it is $600." ... Wood smoke is a serious health problem for people with lung or heart conditions, particularly in the Tuggeranong Valley where the smoke becomes trapped under an inversion layer on cold nights."
Shane Rattenbury called for the scheme to be extended to electric heating. "
August 2015.Switching off gas - An examination of declining gas demand in Eastern Australia. Report by Tim Forcey - Energy Advisor, Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI). The second page of the Executive summary (page 5) states: " Space-heating cost savings of $1,733/year (a savings of 77%) were modeled for a large home in Canberra and $658/year (63%) for a large home in Melbourne." Details are provided in Table 7 (page 24) showing gas heating for a large house in Canberra $2,255 compared to $522 for an efficient reverse cycle heater-air-conditioner. Expected costs for a medium-sized house in Orange, NSW are $1370 for gas and $949 for an efficient heater-air-conditioner.
August 2015.Mummies know best: the pharaohs giving up their secrets about heart disease. "Thomas and Finch suspect that pre-modern heart disease was caused not simply by genes or ageing, but by another risk factor, one that modern societies no longer face: widespread chronic infection. .... Such infections can significantly increase levels of inflammation in the body – and, in recent years, researchers have increasingly realised that inflammation can damage the cardiovascular system. In fact, inflammation appears to be the same mechanism through which obesity, unhealthy diet, and sedentary living also cause heart problems. On top of this, pre-modern people probably faced another serious trigger for inflammation: smoke from wood fires used for cooking, heating and lighting. So it is possible that ancient Egyptians, Peruvians, and others had the same illness as modern people – inflammation-induced heart disease – but with different root causes."
August 2015.Wood stoves: Health risks from pollution outweigh ambiance. The Summit County Council has drawn a line in the smoke. Last week four of the board's five members voted in favor of banning wood stoves in new construction.
August 2015. American Lung Association in California.An important message from the National Blood, Lung and Heart Institute. "Even being next to a fireplace or fire pit this summer can aggravate your COPD."
August 2015. Limited moratorium on beach fires passed. "wood smoke is worse than cigarette smoke on a person’s health. Wood smoke particulates, Burnett said, can become embedded deep in the lungs and get into the blood stream, which can cause life-threatening diseases." "Carmel, in imposing the ban, becomes the last city on the Monterey Peninsula to ban or severely limit beach fires. Statewide, Mayor Pro Tempore Ken Talmage pointed out, only 38 of 435 beaches allow fires."
July 2015. Fine Hunter valley mine fined over toxic blast plume - money will be used fund wood smoke reduction "The penalty will be paid to Muswellbrook Council to fund its Wood Smoke Reduction program aimed at improving local air quality."
July 2015. Pollution from wood heaters has prompted dozens of complaints in Monash in the past five years. Mt Waverley father-of-two Douglas Crosher wants wood heaters banned after putting up with smoke from a nearby property for the past eight years. Mr Crosher said he was concerned about the health effects of smoke on his family and bothered by the sheer nuisance of smoke permeating his house.Mr Crosher has urged other residents concerned by pollution from wood heaters to register their complaint with the council and contact him via his website at woodsmokefree.com
July 2015. In-principle agreement to move to 7 µg/m3 and 20 µg/m3 PM2.5 in the longer term "In recognising the health impacts of airborne particles, it is our intent to strengthen the reporting standards for particles (PM2.5 and PM10) in the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure. We agreed in-principle to adopt annual average and daily PM2.5 reporting standards of 8 µg/m3 and 25 µg/m3, respectively, with a move to 7 µg/m3 and 20 µg/m3 in the longer term."
July 2015. Summit County proposes to prohibit wood-burning stoves. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission recommended last week to permanently ban all wood-burning appliances from any new construction or remodeling.
"Unlike most other sources of pollution, home wood-burning emissions are released directly into the area where people spend most of their time at an elevation that does not promote dispersion," he wrote the commission, adding that it is almost impossible to prevent wood-smoke pollution from seeping into nearby homes."
"The common belief is it's from cars. But it's not. It's wood burning."
Statistics from state and federal environmental studies submitted to the commission last week paint a grim picture.
Monitoring stations can miss that a neighbor burning wood might increase pollution by 100 times in the house next door.
One fireplace burning 10 pounds of wood for an hour fouls the air worse than 120,000 cigarettes.
July 2015. Letter published in the British Medical Journal. Wood burning stoves produce PM2.5 particles in amounts similar to traffic and increase global warming. "London’s annual mean PM10 from wood burning (1.1 μg/m3) far exceeds the predicted city-wide reduction of 0.17 μg/m3 from phases 1 and 2 of the Low Emission Zone to reduce traffic pollution.5 Solving the wood burning problem could generate more benefits for less cost than additional measures to reduce traffic emissions.
Health professionals must explain this to policymakers, so that—instead of repeating past mistakes—future policies use the best, most cost effective ways to minimise damage to public health from air pollution."
July 2015. Lisa Neville: Please Help Stop Wood-smoke Impacting on My Already Inflamed Airways.
Michellina van Loder, Professional Writer, Author, Journalist, Blogger
"Each winter, my health is impacted on by my neighbours’ wood-smoke from their wood heaters. Not only does the woodsmoke make me ill for days at a time but it also makes my life and that of my family’s difficult: we have to seal our windows with masking tape to keep the smoke out; we can’t run the exhausts fans in the bathroom unless someone outside the bathroom can tape up and seal cracks around the door due to the backdraft of woodsmoke that comes in; some nights, I have to sleep with a 3M filter mask over my face to protect my airways; we can’t leave our washing outside, nor can we go outside for long—most days, I can’t go outside at all—because the wood-smoke particles permeate into our hair and clothing, effecting my airways when we come in .... "
July 2015. Interview with Dr. Brian Moench, President, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, who has been speaking out on the connection between pollution and health since 2007. Dr. Brian Moench says we can get worked up all we want when it comes to big polluters, but the trend of backyard fire pits is just as worrisome:
July 2015. Smoke from open cooking fires kill 4 million people each year. One organization that's trying to make a difference in this issue is Dazin, which is a cooperative in Bhutan (though the same model could work in many other regions), a country with one of the highest rates of per capita firewood consumption in the world.
June 2015. PM2.5 pollution linked to reduced white matter in the brain: “Our study provides convincing evidence that several parts of the aging brain, especially the white matter, are an important target of neurotoxic effects induced by long-term exposures to fine particles in the air,” said the study’s lead author, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, an associate professor of at the USC Keck medical school.
June 2015. New York City Council approves legislation to update the city’s air code and help control pollution.
The bill will regulate the use of charbroilers in restaurants, end the use of all future fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and prohibit new buildings from using wood as a source of heat except in the case of emergencies. Buildings with fireplaces and wood stoves would be required to use a specially treated type of wood that does not release as much ash into the air. The bill was approved by a vote of 48-2. See also City Council passes regulations for cleaner air.
June 2015. The Clean Air Society of Australia & NZ (CASANZ), one of the few independent representatives on the Standards Australia Committee calls for a new wood heater standards, including modifying the current test procedure so that heater performance is measured under test conditions that more closely reflects actual operating performance, and to include the need for automatic controls of heater combustion to minimise smoke emissions. Because of the excessive pollution and health costs of from current wood heater models, CASANZ believes that "that action to ban domestic solid fuel burning for domestic heating should be seriously considered".
June 2015. Outdoor particulate air pollution results in 3.2 million premature deaths annually, more than the combined impact of HIV-AIDS and malaria. Improving air quality could potentially avoid millions of pollution-related deaths each year. That finding comes from a team of environmental engineering and public health researchers who developed a global model of how changes in outdoor air pollution could lead to changes in the rates of health problems such as heart attack, stroke and lung cancer. One of the study’s unexpected findings is that cleaning air in less polluted parts of the world, including in North America and Western Europe, can have as much health benefit as similar measures taken in the most polluted areas.
June 2015. Climate Spectator: Australia is suffering a spate of solar-related fires, hundreds of them. The cause of these fires isn’t the solar panels themselves but, rather, a device installed next to solar panels called a rooftop DC isolator (or disconnect) switch – a uniquely Australian requirement. ... Despite the lack of fires or any demonstrable harm from solar panels themselves, and in spite of the evidence showing the fire risk from DC switches, Standards Australia moved to mandate the rooftop DC switch nationwide in 2012, in the name of fire safety.
During the standards-drafting process, Standards New Zealand sought an exemption from the rooftop DC isolator requirement, calling it a stupid idea. The rift eventually led to Australia-only and New Zealand-only sections of the standard.
Germany, itself a world leader in solar electricity, once required a practice similar to Australia’s rooftop DC isolator requirement but eventually stopped, because it was causing too many fires. The Germans found that placing DC switches in exposed places creates a degenerative process that, without regular maintenance, causes the switches to heat up, and eventually, to catch fire – even the high-quality German ones. ... Now Australia has become a new kind of leader in the solar PV industry. As of November 2014, there have been more than 167 fires in Queensland alone – all related to the rooftop DC isolator.
The solution is simple. Some solar PV industry experts – those most concerned with safety and quality – are asking Standards Australia to issue an amendment to the technical standard for installing solar panels, eliminating the requirement for a rooftop DC isolator. Petition: Please remove the need to install a DC Isolator on the roof alongside a Solar PV Array. Please mandate that all DC Isolators are removed from current installations before we have more fires or worse a solar fire related fatality.
June 2015. Fine Particulate Air Pollution Associated with Increased Risk of Childhood Autism. University of Pittsburgh research: "Based on the child’s exposure to concentrations of PM2.5 during the mother’s pregnancy and the first two years of life, the Pitt Public Health team found that children who fell into higher exposure groups were at an approximate 1.5-fold greater risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) after accounting for other factors associated with the child’s risk for ASD – such as the mother’s age, education and smoking during pregnancy. This risk estimate is in agreement with several other recent investigations of PM2.5 and autism." Peer-reviewed scientific paper.
May 2015. New research on the health problems caused by PM2.5 exposure:
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment - 30-sec video - essential viewing!
Winter Spare the Air 30-second video - also essential viewing!
Woodsmoke Pollution and your health - video of woodsmoke pollution in Canberra and Armidale and advice from Dr Jim Markos, Australian Lung Foundation CSIRO Study: Impacts of smoke from regeneration burning on air quality in the Huon Valley, Tasmania
The study measured PM2.5 pollution in Grove, a rural area, exposed only to forestry burns and Geeveston, a small town with 277 houses, exposed to smoke from domestic wood heaters as well as forestry burns. The difference is shown in the graph below. Although there is some pollution from forestry burns in Grove, the vast majority of the pollution in Geeveston is woodsmoke from domestic heating.
The graph below compares the two - Grove (light green) has relatively low pollution. The 277 houses in Geeveston create a massive, unhealthy pollution problem every winter. The PM2.5 standard was exceeded in Geeveston on 99 occasions.
Because most people live in towns, people shop there children go to school there, people are exposed to high levels of toxic smoke pollution. As in Launceston, funds should be made available as a matter of urgency to replace wood heaters with gas or reverse cycle electric heating to protect residents' health.
90 Scientists urge US Congress to improve carbon accounting of biofuels and bioenergy
"Clearing or cutting forests for energy, either to burn trees directly in power plants or to replace forests with bioenergy crops, has the net effect of releasing otherwise sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, just like the extraction and burning of fossil fuels."
A Burning Issue: The experts speak about wood smoke..
Oroville Mercury-Register: 14 May 2010
In December 2009, after 33 breaches of the air quality standard, the US EPA set a three-year deadline for Chico, a small town in Butte County, to clean up its woodsmoke pollution. A local reported asked physicians, research scientists and other experts in Chico and nationwide how tiny particles and other ingredients of wood smoke may affect people's health.
"Wood smoke definitely has a negative health impact." Mark Lundberg, MD, Butte County public health officer and president, Butte-Glenn Medical Society
"I'm convinced that it causes potentially serious health effects in some people, particularly asthmatics ... If you're immediately downwind from someone who's burning, you can really get a significant exposure." Michael Lipsett, MD, chief, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, California Department of Public Health. Dr Lipsett developed public health and medical guidelines for state's outdoor air quality standards.
"Your lung function at seven years of age predicts your lung function at 35 years of age. So factors that might impact the growth and development of your lungs early in your life are relevant to problems in your natural lung function as adults." Mark Miller, MD, MPH, director, UC San Francisco Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit and former Chico pediatrician
"Studies have shown that if you expose people to air pollution particles, you can see that it changes heart rate. We've also shown that it can cause clotting. In one of these susceptible populations, that can be a problem." Robert Devlin, Ph.D., senior scientist and former chief, Clinical Research Branch, Environmental Public Health Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"There are nationwide and local epidemiological studies showing that when particulate matter (in air pollution) goes up, premature deaths go up." Matthew Lakin, Ph.D., scientist, risk assessment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"I think it's a fair comparison to look at wood smoke similar to burning vegetable matter such as tobacco." Melanie Marty, Ph.D., chief, Air Toxicology and Epidemiology Branch, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency
"I think we need to educate the public ... I don't think they realize how toxic wood smoke is. I don't think we've done a very good job about that." L. Gretchen Wooding, MD.
Proposed amendments to the NZ National Environmental Standard (NES) on air quality
Green Party spokesperson on Resource Management, David Clendon, commented:
Instead, the air quality standards standards should be upgraded by the introduction of a much-needed PM2.5 standard, allowing NZ to aim for the greatest reduction in the pollutant that most affects our health for the least possible cost. This cannot be achieved if the pollutant most closely linked to adverse health outcomes is not even considered. See our draft submission for more ideas and information.