Why does a woodburner affect the indoor air quality in your home? Well, even though woodburners cause more than a third of the UK’s outside particulate air pollution, it’s when you light it and when you open the doors to feed it and add more fuel that tiny specks of soot particles float into the air inside your home. Once you close the woodburner the levels of these so or particles eventually drops back to safer levels. And the soot particles go back up the chimney and into the outside air to add to the UK’s particulate air pollution levels.
So, what you can do?
The first thing say the experts is that you can significantly reduce the emissions of these particulates by up to 90% by using dry wood in a modern word burning stove rather than using wet wood or coal. The difference is significant with raw coal or wet wood adding four times more toxic dust particles an hour into the outside air than smokeless coal or dry wood.
How do you know when you’re buying wet or dry wood?
Well there a ‘Ready to Burn’ certification mark that shows the logs you’re buying have less than 20% moisture content compared with double that level in unseasoned logs and triple that moisture content in trees. And if you’re cutting down and using your own trees to make your woodburner’s logs then the experts recommend that you buy an inexpensive electronic moisture meter for around £15-£20. So that when you cut your logs and then split them in half you can measure the moisture levels inside the logs and only burn those with less than 20% moisture content.
How do you know the right woodburner standards?
There will be new compulsory standards for wood burning stoves from 2022 that reduce the PM2.5 soot particulates by 90% when compared with open fires and by 80% when compared with older woodburners, perhaps like the one you currently have now in your home. If you ask an installer or chimney sweep registered by the solid fuel standards association, Hetas, they can advise you on how clean your stove is now. And then you can decide what to do.
What damage can these PM2.5 soot particles in the air do? Because they are so small at 2.5 micrometres diameter which is twenty times narrower than a single human hair, they can actually get into your blood stream from your lungs. And no one really knows the damage this can do but experts project that it can cause heart and lung diseases. So, if you get your woodburner tested by a Hetas expert you will be able to take their advice about compliance with the new 2022 standards.
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