July 23, 2013

Consultation looks at reducing emissions from wood heaters

Lung Foundation Australia has backed efforts to reduce wood smoke pollution, including a national approach to the management of wood heater emissions.

Dr James Markos, on behalf of Lung Foundation Australia, reviewed and submitted his comments on the consultation regulation impact statement (RIS) for reducing emissions from wood heaters to the Secretariat for the Standing Council on Environment and Water.

Dr Markos said Lung Foundation Australia was aware of the adverse health effects of wood smoke on people, especially those with lung disease, and has campaigned to reduce ambient particle pollution, including wood smoke. 

"The effects of wood smoke are similar to those from tobacco smoking, which include short term and long term irritation of the lungs, resulting in symptoms (cough, wheeze and breathlessness), flare-ups of existing lung disease (especially asthma and chronic bronchitis), admissions to hospital and premature deaths (from lung and heart disease)," Dr Markos said. 

"No safe threshold for exposure to wood smoke has been identified, as is also the case with exposure to tobacco smoke," he said.

"Our preferred approach is for residents to switch to cleaner sources of home heating which do not involve any emissions of smoke particles or gas."

Dr Markos said one important consideration was that the wood smoke, which is emitted from wood heaters, enters the neighbourhood air and can affect all residents, irrespective of their choice of home heating. 

"This is especially important in populated cold inland valleys where temperature inversions occur in the winters and trap pollutants close to the ground rather than allowing them to be dispersed away from human habitation," he said.  

"Australian and State Governments have acted appropriately to limit the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in public places to protect non-smokers and especially children. 

"In comparison, a non-smoker who chooses not to burn wood for home heating, is not afforded this same protection by government when wood heaters are permitted to pollute a neighbourhood." 

 

 Dr Markos Letter – Consultation regulation impact statement for reducing emissions from wood heaters