If choking cities are to clean up their act, air pollution will need to become as socially unacceptable as smoking indoors
Watching a family member struggle to breathe properly because of the actions of my neighbours is not something I should have to deal with." This moving line appeared in a letter letter to a Canadian newspaper and the problem came from nearby wood stoves and home fires. The writer, Colin Oakes, explained exactly what he thought of the people that live around him, Burning wood, with all of its known health risks, is tantamount to assault on members of the community.
Are we finally waking up to the damage that air pollution causes? In years to come will polluting our air be thought of in way as we think of plastic waste, passive smoking or drink driving?
So, what are the alternatives for a warm but less polluting and less polluted house? New wood stoves that meet the latest standards are one option. These are very different to open fires or the stoves of old and are carefully engineered to introduce air into different parts of the flame to burn away the smoke. However, even the stoves that meet the newest European Ecodesign standards can still emit the same particle pollution as six modern lorries. Clearly it would not be acceptable to drive six lorries in your street all evening; neighbours would be rightly up in arms.
New gas boilers exist that come with low pollution burners and heat pumps that work like fridges in reverse. These produce far less particle pollution than wood. The best systems now learn how the outside cold affects your house to optimise energy use, save you money and reduce climate change emissions. You can control them from your mobile phone and can have a warm house when you arrive home.
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