NPI: Australia's Wood Heaters Twice as polluting as electricity generation and coal mining put together!

   The image to the left (click to enlarge) shows page 2 of the the woodheater consultation RIS (CRIS), released in April 2013.  It reports that particulate emissions from the 1.1 million woodheaters in Australia are estimated at 40,000 tonnes per annum (about 36 kg per woodheater per year).  Woodsmoke is almost entirely less than 1 micron in diameter, so 40,000 tonnes of particle pollution means 40,000 tonnes of PM2.5 emissions.

PM2.5 emissions listed in the NPI do not cover small sources such as motor vehicles or wood heaters.  The 2012/13 Inventory reports that 10,000 tonnes (10 million kg) of PM2.5 were emitted by electricity generation and 7,400 tonnes from coal mining.

The 40,000 tonnes of PM2.5 emitted by domestic wood heaters makes them twice as polluting as electricity generation and coal mining put together!!!

It's also important to note emissions at roof height in residential areas often mix directly with the air we breathe, and so cause a lot more harm than PM2.5 emitted from tall stacks which disperse into the atmosphere.  Consequently, the health damage of a kilogram of PM2.5 emitted from a domestic wood heater is much worse a kilogram of PM2.5 emitted from a power station.

Given the above - the fact that domestic wood heaters are more than twice as polluting as mining and electricity generation put together, and the fact that their pollution is much more likely to enter and damage our lungs than PM2.5 emitted by a power station - reducing the health damage from breathing woodsmoke  pollution should be a top priority.

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