Sadiq Khan turns to ‘eco’ wood stove amid concerns over environmental pollution | Air pollution

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London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has withdrawn his support for wood-burning stoves, which he had promoted as “environmentally friendly”, after sales of the stoves, which contribute to harmful air pollution, soared.

In 2018, Khan launched an eco-design initiative that complies with the new regulations of the EU Directive on Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, which came into force on January 1 last year, to encourage householders to switch from open fires and old stoves to modern technology. Supported the stove. . He said Londoners could make a big difference by using the “right kit”.

The Mayor’s support, coupled with the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, which also supports more efficient stoves, is being used to promote sales of modern wood burning stoves, which are often bought primarily to improve the appeal of homes.

Wood stoves emit toxic particulate matter known as PM2.5. PM2.5 is inhaled deep into the lungs, increasing the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. In 2019, exposure to these small toxic particles in the UK was 33,100 premature deaths from all sources of pollution, including wood stoves.

PM2.5 emissions from burning firewood in the home 124% increase Currently, burning wood in the home produces more small particle pollution than all of the UK’s road traffic.

Mr Khan faces intense scrutiny over the extension of London’s ultra-low emissions zone after Labor’s defeat in last Thursday’s by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip over his support for wood stoves. After objections from the Liberal Democratic Party, the government agreed to withdraw its support for wood-burning stoves. problem.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Tackling the twin dangers of London’s air pollution and the climate crisis is one of the Mayor’s top priorities.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan supported the use of eco-design stoves in 2018, but has now withdrawn his approval. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

“Due to increasing evidence of the harmful effects of air pollution, including wood burning, the Mayor no longer recommends eco-design wood stoves and other solid fuel burning.”

The Stove Industry Alliance, which promotes the wood stove industry, has removed his recommendations from its website, but they still appear elsewhere. “Stoves are good!” marketing materials from major manufacturer Seedel said last week. And they say they are “…supported by the Mayor of London”.

Data from the Stove Industry Alliance shows UK stove sales by member companies increased by 40% from 143,160 in 2021 to 200,428 last year.

Liberal Democrat London councilor Hina Bokhari said: “We are grateful that the Mayor has withdrawn his support. Wood burning in homes is one of the main sources of PM2.5, the most harmful of all pollutants, and a variety of respiratory It has been linked to organ disease, heart disease, and even dementia.

A 2017 analysis by the government’s Air Quality Expert Group found that one EcoDesign stove emits the same amount of pollution particles in an hour as six modern heavy duty diesel vehicles traveling at 20 miles per hour. The stove industry says eco-design stoves emit some of the polluting particles emitted by wood-burning fireplaces and older stoves.

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A diagram comparing the emissions of wood burners with those of diesel vehicles and heavy goods vehicles.

Jemima Hartshorne, founder of Mums for Langs, a south London campaign founded in 2017, said her group called for wood stoves to be banned by 2032 unless they are the only source of heat in the home. He said he hopes for “The pollution levels from wood burning are already very high and incredibly harmful,” she says.

Hazel Agombah, 53, from Winchester, a supporter of the Mums for Lungs group, said wood stoves should be sold with warnings similar to those on cigarette packs. “Because it’s invisible and happens after dark, you don’t notice the gradual buildup of wood smoke on the streets,” she says. “Once you are aware of it, it can be devastating to realize that you are breathing in harmful air.”

Transport activist Chris Todd, 56, from Brighton, said: “The forest smoke has gotten worse in recent years. More people are turning on their stoves.”

“I think some people imagine that smoke goes down a chimney and magically disappears. People don’t understand that smoke doesn’t just go up into the air. It’s a plume that engulfs your nearest neighbors. It will spread.”

Gary Fuller, an air pollution scientist at Imperial College London, said: “Current messages about wood burning seem to suggest that modern stoves are OK.

“Whether you use an open fire to burn wood, which is illegal in many urban areas, or invest in a solid fuel stove, it is the most polluting way to heat your home.”

Data from the Chief Medical Officer shows that while ecodesign stoves pollute less, they still emit 465 times more particulate pollution than gas-fired boilers. Report on air pollution.

The stove industry says data comparing emissions from eco-design stoves to car emissions and other energy sources is “significantly flawed”. It states that these comparisons do not take into account the fact that most stoves are only used for a few hours a day.

A spokesperson for the Stove Industry Alliance said: “Particulate matter comes from a variety of sources and the UK stove industry continues to improve and innovate its appliances to reduce emissions and further improve efficiency. I’m working on doing that,” he said. Modern Ecodesign compliant stoves that burn dry wood produce less than 0.1% of the UK’s total PM2.5 emissions, up to 90% less than open flames and up to 100% less than older basic stove models. 80% reduction. Wood is a sustainable and renewable fuel source. ”

Seidel said he has removed references to the mayor’s recommendations from his website.

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