New research shows that wood burning stoves in urban areas are responsible almost half of the people’s exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in air pollution particles.
The tiny pollutants made up of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a result of burning fuels. They have been known for their carcinogenic effects. The source of PAHs was examined in a new study. It was found that wood burning produced more PAHs than petrol or diesel fuel.
Although the analysis was performed in Athens (Greece), the researchers made it clear that this was not an uncommon case. They stated that home wood burning was a major problem for urban air quality in Europe and that excessive exposure could have severe health consequences.
Athens isn’t an exception. It’s more representative of a general rule, said Athanasios Nanes, at Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (Greek), and Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne (Switzerland), one of the authors of the new study. It is, on the one hand, a terrible situation. On the other hand, this shows that there is something people can do to reduce this risk. You can basically stop burning wood. This is the bottom line.
In the UK, wood burning in homes is the biggest source of small particle pollution. This is despite only 8% of the population using wood burners.
Even new wood burning stoves that meet the ecodesign standards still emit 750 times as much tiny particle pollution as modern HGV trucks. According to scientists, wood burners can triple the amount of harmful pollutants inside homes and should be sold with warning labels.
The new research Published in the journal Atmospheric Physics and ChemistryBackground samples of Athens air were taken every day for one year. These were tested for 31 PAHs as well as many other chemical markers.
Different sources of pollution can produce different compounds. Scientists were able calculate the percentage of PAHs from each source using these compounds. They found that 31% of annual PAHs were produced by wood burning, mainly in winter, 33% by diesel and oil, and 29% by petrol (gasoline).
Some PAHs are more dangerous than others. However, when this is taken into consideration, wood burning carries 43% of the cancer risk. Diesel, oil, and petrol come in at 36%, 17%, and 36% respectively.
We know this. [smoke from]Nenes said that wood burning is far more toxic than other types, and the results clearly demonstrate wood burning’s role as a driver of long-term, carcinogenic risk.
Researchers said that the level of PAH pollution in Athens was comparable to other European and North American cities. However there are higher levels in China.
The average annual PAHs concentration was below EU limits in the Athens research, but it was twice the World Health Organizations reference level. According to WHO data, 5 additional cases of cancer could be caused by PAHs in Athens for every 100,000 people.
Given [the carcinogen exposure]The extended use of [wood]Europe has been affected by the burning of tobacco products, eg France and Germany. [wood]The scientists stated that burning carbon emissions is a must immediately, as they can provide significant health benefits.
Nenes said that PAHs weren’t the only carcinogens in wood smoke. It also contained many other compounds that could cause health problems. Wood smoke is especially dangerous and can cause all sorts of health problems, including cancer, oxidative stress, obesity, premature aging, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, heart attacks, and other ailments. I am really concerned about wood burning.
Gary Fuller, Imperial College London, was not part the research team. He said: We tend think that burning wood can be somehow harmless, since wood is a natural product. These measurements remind us that wood-burning is not an environmentally-friendly activity. The UK data shows that home wood burning has caused an increase in the emissions of benzo(a),pyrene (one of the main PAHs). This is 16% more than 2000.
Professor Alison Tomlin from the University of Leeds (UK) stated that moving to electric cars would reduce PAH emissions from traffic. However, unless appropriate mitigation methods are developed to decrease PAH emissions domestic wood burners or boilers, they will continue posing a significant health threat. She said.
Athens’ study found that most of the PAH exposure occurred during winter days with low winds and rain. This meant that the wood smoke didn’t disperse. Tomlin suggested that implementing no-burn days during such times could be a practical short-term solution. She said that it could be difficult to enforce such a policy or put restrictions on wood burning in densely populated places.
Utrecht council, Netherlands, announced earlier in December Subsidy up to 2,000(1,700) to encourage people replacing their fireplaces or wood burning stoves to clean up the air.
Previous research by Nenes, and colleagues, found that Wood smoke emitted at night oxidisedIt is converting to more harmful compounds than was expected. This means that the pollution is more hazardous to health when it is still concentrated at the source and not oxidising over the course of a few days.