The environmental debate about air pollution and wood burning stoves rises in the media every now and then. Unfortunately, the debate is often based on unreliable data and takes place without getting things in perspective.
It’s important to discuss the best way to take care of the environment and that we learn more about it. But the debate in the media is often twisted and one-sided. For example, some critics compare particles from wood burning stoves to diesel particles – but is that the same? Nobody knows for sure. But would you eat fish that had been smoked in an exhaust pipe from a diesel engine? Would you go camping but forbid a bonfire? Would you miss out on the cosiness and the heat from a wood burning stove when you are at your summer cottage?
It’s also about quality of life. You have to ask yourself if it’s worth living an average life of 87.7 years without bonfires, cosiness, candle lights, barbeque and fried steaks. Compared to a life which might be 87.5 on average?
Besides there are plenty of advantages when it comes to wood burning stoves. Firewood is carbon neutral and a renewable source of energy which you can store in your wood shed and at all times use as a supplement for your house’s primary source of heating.
Air continues to get cleaner
The debate about wood burning stoves and air pollution shouldn’t be seen as a sign that air pollution in Denmark is getting worse. Quite the contrary.
A report from the DCE – The National Centre of Environment and Energy shows that the air quality continues to improve. Here, it is relevant to note that especially the amount of particles and tar from wood smoke is decreasing.
The report shows that the European Union’s limit values from 2015 were observed as early as 2013. No place in Denmark does the particle pollution surpass the permitted amount (source: DAPO).
- The Danish wood burning stove regulations are among the stricktest in Europe
- 83 % of air pollution in Denmark comes from other countries
- On average, 5 % of the particles in the outside air is from wood burning stoves
Newer Danish tests done by researchers from the universities in Aarhus and Copenhagen show that people who are exposed to a big amount of wood burning stove smoke for three hours do not get any permanent damage on the respiratory passages. Notice that the amount of smoke that the test persons were exposed to was on a level so high that you under normal circumstances never would get near that amount of smoke in Denmark.
Pollution from wood burning stoves has been greatly reduced
Through 11 years the Danish Technological Institute has used the same method for collecting data to measure the level of particle emissions in Danish wood burning stoves. The data should give an idea of how eco-friendly wood burning stoves have become.
The conclusion from the Technological Institute: Wood burning stoves have reduced the particle emissions with 60 % from 2002 to 2013. And 20 % the past three years.
What can you do to reduce the particle emissions?
Luckily, there is a lot that you as a wood burning stove user can do to make sure that no unnecessary polluted particles will be released into the air.
- If your wood burning stove is more than 10-15 years, it is a good idea to replace your old wood burning stove with a new one (New wood burning stoves release less than half the amount of particles compared to older models)
- Light a fire correctly – and only use dry and clean firewood
- Make sure that the chimney is working properly
- Make sure that there is plenty of air when you light the fire. Don’t reduce air supply before the flames are burning brightly.
- Make sure that the wood burning stove and chimney are well kept