A defence of Wood Burning Stoves impact on Air Quality: 1/2


We all want a cleaner and healthier environment. Clean air is vital for people’s health and the planet. For those of us who work within the industry it is a privilege to be able to have a positive impact on the environment. Over the past decade we have seen how the UK and European manufacturers of Wood burning appliances have worked to improve their efficiencies to help reduce Carbon emissions.
The heating industry has always been at the forefront of reducing carbon emissions through greater efficiency of their appliances, regardless of the fuel used. Our company first worked with the oil boiler manufactures over 25 years ago to help produce efficiencies of 90%. We are proud to have worked with wood burning stove manufactures and seen how the whole industry has embraced change, often ahead of legislation. Over the past 20 years the Wood burning Stove industry has seen improvements made by HETAS including the registration and training of installers. The European standards and CE marking. The quality and availability of properly dried and seasoned wood through the Woodsure quality assurance scheme. Innovations in design including the introduction of “eco labelling” have all contributed to improvements in efficiencies.

It is because of these that the charges now being laid at the door of our industry are simply untrue and unfair. It’s important not to let the hype get ahead of the science. Heating is hard to decarbonise and wood burning stoves could help reduce emissions of around 70 – 90% which is huge reduction for the environment.
This defence is principally dealing with the issue of Particle matter, as this is currently seen as being the most dangerous to health. Wood burning is being accused as the major contributor to this problem.
We have tried our best to disseminate the data that lies behind the headlines, and provide what in our opinion is a true and fair view of the facts, which we hope will both inform you and help you.

Why the Political Concern over Air Quality

The UK is required to report air quality data annual under the two European Directives:

A)  The Council Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.

B) The Fourth Daughter Directive under the Air Quality Framework Directive.

The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has produced a report Air Pollution in the UK 2016 to meet these directives.

The report can be downloaded here. There is a Full Version and a Compliance Assessment Summary available online.

What does the report cover?

The UK is divided into 43 zones and these areas are tested for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), benzo (a) pyrene, nickel, ozone, carbon monoxide, lead, benzene and particles PM10 and PM2.5.
Unfortunately, the report on these particles PM10 and PM2.5 has produced the figures which put Wood burning Stoves into a massive grouping called “Combustion in Industry/Commercial and Domestic. We will come back to this in part 2.

The Good News

On reading the DEFRA report despite the media headlines and scaremongering the UK met all limit values for PM10 and PM2.5 and carbon monoxide levels.

The UK has in fact already managed to meet the stage 2 limit value for PM2.5 that are required for 2020.

Under the Air Quality Directive, Member States will be required to achieve a national exposure reduction target for PM2.5 over the period 2010 to 2020. The UK has already met the new target for 2020. Levels of PM2.5 for 2016 were measured at 10 μg m-3.

The Directive sets an exposure reduction target of 15%. This equates to reducing the Average Exposure Indicator (AEI) to 11 μg m-3 (micrograms per metre cubed) by 2020. The AEI for the reference year 2015 is set at 20 μg m-3.The UK already meets this obligation. There are no obligations or target values for the years between 2010, 2015 and 2020, but the running AEIs for these intervening years give an indication of progress towards the 2020 target. The running year AEI for 2016 was calculated as follows:

• • 2014: 12 μg m-3
• • 2015: 10 μg m-3
• • 2016: 10 μg m-3

There are regional differences and levels are higher in the southern and eastern areas, due to the contribution of particulate matter from mainland Europe. This is referred to as Transported Particle matter. The English Chanel can often record levels as high as we see on mainland UK.

Click here to view part 2

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