Log in
British Lung Foundation
38,498 members45,397 posts

The increase in domestic wood burning heating and smoke

I live out in the country and i find when we have weather as we are having now that the smoke in the air from these stoves and bonfires really messes up my breathing, and i have to stay inside.

i am a very concerned about the policy of burning carbon neutral products for energy, generating electricity ,and that it may mean we have to stay indoors more, any one else thought about this? or are having any problems with wood burning smoke,

The ability to reply to this post has been turned off.
10 Replies

yes richard i agree with you.I have been known to put my foot down in the car if i smelll smoke from fires while out driving.

I agree too. Whilst I don't live in the countryside I did suffer around bonfire night.

Auntymary xx

i too have noticed with burning makes life more difficult my nans copd was caused by tending pete fires

I have 3 open fires that supply all my heat...I too live in the country, very rural....I moved here 3 years ago but I don't find the fires have affected my breathing at all. Smoke doesn't seem to aggrevate me but fumes from buses and cars etc certainly do. Luckily I live on a single track lane that nobody uses unless they live here.

I've found the smokeless coal is much harder to burn so I stick to coal and logs, getting a wood burner in January so that'll warm this place up!

Mike x

hello i have a wood burner too, but my point is that if power generators all move over to wood and other [carbon neutrals]? and there are more wood burners domestic, i find that in times of low presure in our town that the wood smoke realy makes my breathing worse,


1 like

I have a problem around bonfire night too. I posted before on a different thread that copd is diagnosed in African rural regions in women who dont smoke at all, but do all their cooking over wood in unventilated spaces. jean

1 like

We burn logs on our open fire indoors and yes, at the end of the evening I'm choked up, literally!

Strangely enough when I exit the room I experience a really good bout of coughing after which my breathing is much 'clearer', if you know what I mean!

So, is it good or is it bad to breathe in these fumes? I don't know!

Hi Richard

I live in a very wooded rural area where bonfires are ablaze all year round. It just drives me totally nuts especially as I love the windows open but have to be so very careful all the time. This cottage has three fireplaces (one with a wood burner) but sad to say they haven't been used for many, many years.

I live in mid Wales in a very rural area. Our only heating is from a solid fuel Rayburn and a wood burner in the living room. The wood burner doesnt seem to emit smoke but the Rayburn does, it fills the house with smoke each time it is lit. It was our only means of cooking as well but we have now been given an electric cooker. If my husband lights the Rayburn I have to shut myself in the bedroom until it starts to burn properly. I have a mask I put on if I have to stoke it while my husband is out. The house is also damp and my health has deffo deteriorated since we moved here.

1 like

Is there not something we can do through the government site petitions? They have spent a fortune stopping people smoking but seems to be okay for smoke to be emitted for recreational garden and fuel purposes. We had cleaner air in the city years ago with people just burning coke or gas. I moved out to the seaside and mostly now there is always a smell of smoke from somewhere in the town and people are buying gadgets to burn wood in in the garden. COPD has apparently now caught up with heart disease as the killer now how is that if smoking caused all the deaths? I think they are not helping with clean air, letting too many bbqs, pizza ovens, wood stoves, etc. have us on lock down windows closed, boiling inside our houses and it isn't right. Is the BLF willing to help promote such a petition?

This would need researching properly before putting into a petition however it sounds possible even though it wasn't a british study :)

Actually there are many more reasons to hate wood stoves than that. Below are 18 reasons why wood burning should be banned in all urban areas, from Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

1. All air pollution is not created equal. Wood smoke is the most toxic type of pollution in most cities, more dangerous than auto pollution and most industrial pollution. Lighting a wood fire in your house is like starting up your own mini-toxic waste incinerator.

2. Lifetime cancer risk is 12 times greater for wood smoke compared to an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke.

3. Burning 10 lbs. of wood for one hour, releases as much PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) as 35,000 packs of cigarettes.

4. Toxic free-radical chemicals in wood smoke are biologically active 40 times longer than the free radicals in cigarette smoke.

5. Wood smoke is the third largest source of dioxins, one of the most intensely toxic compounds known to science.

6. The very small size of wood particles make them seven times more likely to be inhaled than other particulate pollution.

7. Wood smoke easily penetrates homes of neighbors creating concentrations up to 88% as high as outdoor air.

8. If you smell wood smoke, you know you are being harmed. The sweet smell comes from deadly compounds like benzene. Once you can smell the smoke you know the concentration of particulate matter is dangerously high.

9. The most dangerous components of air pollution are much higher inside homes that burn wood than non-burners, as much as 500% higher. The characterization of a wood burning ban “punishing the little people” is easily undermined because a ban would actually benefit the burners themselves more than anyone else, especially their own children

10. Considering the most dangerous part of particulate pollution, wood burning produces as much overall as all our cars during the winter.

11. We require emissions testing of all our cars. Great. An average house heated with wood emits about as much winter time pollution as driving between 90-400 cars all winter, but we don’t emissions test wood stoves. Why not?

12. The inhalable particulate pollution from one woodstove is equivalent to the amount emitted from 3,000 gas furnaces producing the same amount of heat.

13. Emissions from modern combustion appliances for wood logs may increase ten-fold if they are not operated appropriately, and most of them are not.

14. Wood smoke is the only pollution emitted right where people spend most of their time. It disperses poorly, is not evenly distributed and stays in the air longer because of its small size. Concentrations can be 100 times higher for neighbors of wood burners than what is captured at the nearest monitoring station. Real local “pollution victims” are created even when overall community levels are low.

15. If your neighbor is a regular wood burner, and follows all the rules, i.e. doesn’t burn during yellow or red alert days, but does during all “green” days, you can go an entire winter without having one single day of clean air.

16. According to California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District, burning wood costs the rest of the community, primarily your next door neighbors, at least $2 in extra medical expenses for every lb of wood that you burn. An average fire then costs your neighbors about $40.

17. Long ago most communities passed ordinances protecting people from second hand cigarette smoke. Ironically those laws protect people at places they don't necessarily have to be (restaurants, stores, buildings, etc). But in the one place they have to be, their home, they have no protection from something even worse—wood smoke. People should have just as much protection from wood smoke as from cigarette smoke and for all the same reasons. We don’t allow people to blow cigarette smoke in your face, why should we allow people to blow wood smoke into your home?

18. Wood burning is not even close to carbon neutral over the short term, the next few decades, and it is that time frame that will make or break the climate crisis. Burning wood is extremely in inefficient. Per unit of heat created wood produces even more CO2 than the fossil fuels do. Furthermore, the black carbon particulate matter released enhances the absorption of radiant heat in the atmosphere, making global warming worse, and prematurely melts already imperiled mountain snow pack.

The ability to reply to this post has been turned off.

You may also like...