BSRIA has responded to the announcement by the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health that UK air pollution is ‘contributing to 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK’.
Wood-burning stoves – and the increasing popularity of – have been cited as part of this statistic.
Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “BSRIA is very concerned about yesterday’s announcement, but what some of this boils down to is approved fuels versus non-approved fuels. We know that wood-burning stoves serve as a carbon-neutral form of energy and used in the accurate manner are perfectly safe. Indeed, the increased popularity for this form of heating is due, in part, to policies to reduce CO2 emissions. Sometimes, it is the users and installers who need to be educated in proper usage of such products.
The widespread adoption of gas for domestic heating should still be viewed as a safe option. The work that BSRIA carries out in its test laboratories, on a regular basis, demonstrates our commitment to such stringent and rigorous legislative processes. Our demanding tests are held in high esteem within the industry."
The report goes on to say that emissions from diesel engines have been poorly controlled and indoor air pollution has been overlooked. Tobacco still poses the biggest indoor threat, but wood-burning stoves, spray deodorants, cleaning products, air fresheners and fly spray contribute. Mould and mildew in poorly ventilated rooms can also cause illness.
‘Being indoors can offer some protection against outdoor air pollution, but it can also expose us to other air pollution sources,’ the report says, adding ‘air fresheners can react chemically to generate air pollutants, and ozone-based air fresheners can also cause indoor air pollution’.
Co-author Professor Jonathan Grigg said there was now clear evidence that air pollution – largely from factories and traffic – was linked to heart disease and lung problems, including asthma.
Professor Grigg said the public could help by:
- walking, cycling or taking the bus or train instead of driving, when possible;
- keeping gas appliances and solid fuel burners in good repair;
- making homes more energy efficient.
Professor Stephen Holgate, asthma expert at Southampton University and chairman of the reporting group, called for authorities to monitor pollution levels more closely, build new homes away from busy roads and consider closing particularly polluted roads at certain times.
He also advised people to open and close windows in the home several times a day.