Tak­ing a toll on health

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS - SAAVANAH BOURKE

AS tem­per­a­tures around the re­gion plum­met health con­cerns have quickly grown with wood smoke re­spon­si­ble for ma­jor­ity of breaches to air qual­ity stan­dards.

Wood heater smoke is gen­er­ated from both open fire­places and wood-fired heaters dis­charg­ing emis­sions through a me­tal pipe called a flue or a chim­ney.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics wood heater smoke was found to be the sin­gle big­gest air pol­lu­tant with around 10 per cent of Aus­tralian house­holds – roughly 900,000 homes – us­ing wood as their main source of heat­ing.

Su­gar­loaf ru­ral fire brigade first of­fi­cer James Massey said it was a con­cern that could be avoided eas­ily.

“Peo­ple need to be aware of the tim­ber they are burn­ing,” Mr Massey said.

“If you have a per­fectly good tree that has been killed that means that tree has not died nat­u­rally – this tim­ber that is most con­cern­ing.

“Most times that tree does not burn well be­cause it’s been killed op­posed to a tree that has died nat­u­rally.”

He said while it might only seem like a mi­nor dif­fer­ence, the im­pact is dras­tic.

“There are tox­ins in that smoke,” he said.

“Peo­ple need to make sure if they are us­ing a wood heater they get their tim­ber from a refutable sup­plier.”

Aus­tralian wood-fired heaters are es­ti­mated to cause health costs of around $3800 per wood heater each year.

Given the roughly 900,000 wood heaters used as pri­mary house­hold heat­ing sources in Aus­tralia, this could be as high as $3.4 bil­lion an­nu­ally.

Mr Massey said while it was cold out­side and peo­ple are try­ing to keep warmth trapped in the house, ven­ti­la­tion is a ne­ces­sity.

“Most peo­ple lock up the house like a safe,” he said.

“But it is re­ally im­por­tant that you have that fresh air flow­ing through your house,” he said.

Pic­ture: Con­tributed

GROW­ING CON­CERN: Wood heater smoke was found to be the sin­gle big­gest air pol­lu­tant.

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