LETTER: New wood stoves not as clean as advertised

In response to the two recent pro-air pollution letters: Firstly, new wood stoves, although rated at 4.5 grams per hour, seldom if ever emit near that figure. Those rating numbers are produced in a lab using cribs of precisely stacked, kiln-dried lumber. They do not take into account startup or reloading, etc.

The tests are performed by highly skilled technicians, coaching the very best performance out of a stove. Even if by some miracle real-life emissions were 4.5 grams — or even 1.3 grams of PM2.5 — that is still far too polluting for health, as there is no safe level of particulate pollution exposure.

The PurpleAir monitors in Parksville have shown new stoves don’t even come close to those numbers (parksville.purpleair.org). They have recorded numbers as high as 444.34 ug/m3, which is enough to cause serious lung and heart problems. Levels this high send some to the ER by ambulance, gasping for air. As to the statements that people need to move if they don’t like it, as far as I know Canadians have the right to move freely in our nation. No one should be forced from their home because of a neighbour’s choice of heat.

PM2.5 is one of the most toxic components of air pollution. It is as small, or smaller, than bacteria and cannot be keep out of even the most well-sealed of homes. Excusing wood burning by citing tradition and way of life cannot change the science that wood stove emissions are detrimental to health. Nostalgia or not, the facts are irrefutable.

People heating with cleaner forms of heat are far from the minority; in fact, its the other way around. From the Ministry of Environment, wood burning accounts for 97 per cent of PM2.5 emissions associated with heating in B.C. and accounts for “only” 10 per cent of heating needs As the PQB News editorial points out, Dr Hasselback shared dire statistics and confirmed, “Island communities would be well-served to wean themselves from wood in the interest of public health.”

In response to the two recent pro-air pollution letters: Firstly, new woodstoves, rated at 4.5 grams, seldom emit that figure. Rating numbers are produced in a lab using crib stacked kiln-dried lumber. They do not take into account startup or reloading. Tests are performed by skilled technicians, coaching the very best performance out of a stove.

As there is no safe level of PM2.5, this is still far too damaging to health. The PurpleAir monitors in Parksville have shown new stoves don’t come close to those numbers (parksville.purpleair.org). They have recorded numbers as high as 444.34 ug/m3, enough to cause serious lung and heart problems. Levels this high send some to the ER by ambulance, gasping for air. As to the statements, ‘people need to move if they don’t like it,’ Canadians have the right to move freely in our nation. No one should be forced from their home because of a neighbour’s choice of heat.

PM2.5 is the most toxic components of air pollution. It is as small as a bacteria and cannot be kept out of the most well-sealed homes. Excusing wood burning by citing tradition and way of life cannot change that wood stove emissions are detrimental to health. Nostalgia or not, the facts are irrefutable.

People heating with cleaner forms of heat are far from the minority. According to the Ministry of Environment, wood burning accounts for 97 per cent of PM2.5 emissions associated with heating in B.C. and accounts for “only” 10 per cent of heating needs. As the PQB News editorial points out, Dr Hasselback shared dire statistics and confirmed, “Island communities would be well-served to wean themselves from wood in the interest of public health.”

Bill Lewin

Parksville

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