Home fires caus­ing more air pol­lu­tion

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Win­ter has of­fi­cially ar­rived and with it the home fires have been stoked, send­ing air-pol­lu­tion lev­els rock­et­ing.

In re­sponse to the up­surge in smoke en­ter­ing the at­mos­phere the Auck­land Coun­cil is urg­ing peo­ple to con­sider their home­heat­ing op­tions.

Coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal strat­egy and pol­icy man­ager Ludo Camp­bell-Reid says re­search shows 11 tonnes of wood smoke par­ti­cles from house­hold fires are re­leased into the at­mos­phere ev­ery win­ter’s day rep­re­sent­ing about 72 per cent of all the air-pol­lut­ing emis­sions.

He says air pol­lu­tion is a ma­jor health risk and causes about 300 pre­ma­ture deaths in Auck­land each year.

The im­pact of ill-health and deaths in eco­nomic terms is esti- mated to be $1.07 bil­lion a year.

Find­ing cleaner and cheaper sources of home heat­ing should be on ev­ery­one’s agenda, Mr Camp­bell-Reid says.

‘‘As a first prin­ci­ple, mak­ing sure the house is well in­su­lated means less heat­ing is needed.

‘‘The clean­est heat­ing op­tion is a heat pump as it does not cre­ate smoke. If you do use do­mes­tic fires then burn­ing dry, un­treated wood in a modern ‘low emis­sions’ burner can re­duce its harm­ful ef­fects.’’

Burn­ing treated wood is pro­hib­ited be­cause it re­leases toxic chem­i­cals such as ar­senic into the air.

‘‘In­door fires may look fan­tas­tic but they do not heat your home ef­fi­ciently. In fact, only 15 per cent of the heat gen­er­ated warms the house,’’ he says.

‘‘The re­main­ing 85 per cent of the heat goes straight up the chim­ney.’’

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