Pretty well everybody loves the look of a wood-burning stove in the living room. There’s nothing really better to make it homely and visually appealing. For a long time they surged in popularity for this reason. But they are harmful.
The Times reports that more than two thirds (66%+) of people using them don’t know that they are harmful to human health. I am compelled to add that they are also harmful to the health of domestic cats.
And I would further add that domestic cats are possibly more likely to be exposed to the harmful effects of a wood-burning stove and the PM 2.5 particulate matter emitted from them.
This is because cats like to sit near warm stoves and warm objects and therefore will be exposed to the small harmful particles. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England has warned about the increased popularity of wood stoves.
He has said that they could cause significant air pollution in cities and towns. The PM 2.5 particulate matter particles can be released not only into the home but to the exterior through chimneys.
The report is that they can cause stunted lung development in children and increased risk of developing dementia in later life with the possibility of early death.
The problem – as has been highlighted by the Opinium poll of 2000 adults – is that only 35% believe it is true that “wood-burning harms everyone’s health”.
Twenty-four percent thought the statement was false and 41% said they were unsure whether it was true or false.
For users of wood-burning stoves, 48% of the participants thought that the statement was false. In other words, they believed that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces do not harm everyone’s health. And of those who owned wood-burning stoves, 23% were unsure whether they were safe or not.
Among those people who owned a wood-burning stove, more than half purchased one to make their home more pleasant and cosy.
Pollution outside of the home from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces has been detected in middle-class urban areas such as Islington in London.
An analysis found that wood-burning stoves are more expensive than central heating but the surge in purchases of wood-burning stove came about because of a steep rise in gas prices. Clearly people did not do their research on costs.
Thirty-one percent of the participants believed that it wasn’t true that wood-burning is more expensive than central heating while 23% said that it was true and the rest were unsure.
Larissa Lockwood director of Clean Air at Global Action Plan, the charity which commissioned the above-mentioned poll, said: “Many people associate a fire with feeling cosy but cosiness shouldn’t cost you more money or put your health and the planet at risk.”
The Times also reports that local authorities are backing a campaign to highlight the harmful effects of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. The campaign is called Clean Air Night.
One think tank believes that wood burners should be sold with a health warning.
Air pollution is at dangerous levels in many towns and cities in the UK and The Times Clean Air For All campaign has been pushing for measures to be taken to improve air quality in the UK.
P.S. in my view kids and cats are the most vulnerable. Kids because their future is ahead of them and cats because they love warmth. Also they are more likely to lick the small particles off their fur.
Vicky Naylor, General Manager, ACR Stoves said: “Swapping an older stove that is 10-years-old or more for a modern EcoDesign Ready version will see an 80% reduction in particulate emissions and replacing an open fire with an EcoDesign Ready stove achieves a 90% reduction.”
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