• Chimney fires produce the same amount of PAHs as diesel and gasoline compounds. PAHs are chemicals produced by the incomplete combustion of organic matter.
  • But the one-year study in Athens showed that burning wood produces more carcinogenic PAHs than road traffic.

The French praised its relaxing and picturesque side, and chimney fires are not without danger to the environment. According to the Regional and Interdepartmental Directorate for Environment, Planning and Transportation (DRIEE), if wood heating accounts for 35% of PM2.5 emissions, against 30% for road traffic.

This has health consequences. In a study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and PhysicsResearchers have shown that heating wood produces more carcinogenic chemicals than road traffic.

In question: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) contained in fine particles of pollution, which are produced in the case of incomplete combustion of organic matter. Long known for their carcinogenic effects, they are produced more by combusting wood than by diesel or gasoline.

Wood heating is a risk factor for cancer

Last year, another study showed that burning wood in homes is the largest source of small particulate air pollution in the UK, producing three times more road traffic, despite only 8% of the population using wood stoves.

As part of the new study, researchers took background samples of the air in Athens every day for a year. They were analyzed for 31 PAHs and a wide range of other chemical markers associated with different pollution sources. They then found that 31% of annual PAHs come from wood burning, especially in winter, 33% from diesel and petroleum, and 29% from gasoline.

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But the study also shows that some PAHs are more carcinogenic than others. However, when the researchers took this data into account, the risk of cancer from burning wood rose to 43%, diesel and petroleum to 36% and gasoline to 17%.

“We know wood smoke is more toxic than other types of particulate matter, underline in Watchman Athanasios Nenis, Hellas Research and Technology Foundation in Patras, Greece, The results clearly showed that wood heating is the main long-term risk factor for cancer.”

“Wood smoke is particularly potent and causes all kinds of diseases, from cancer and oxidative stress, to heart attacks and strokes, obesity, premature aging, diabetes — everything to do with inflammation in the body. So, in general, I’m very concerned about heating with wood.”Professor Nenes continues.

Air quality deteriorating across Europe

According to the world case of Athena “Not an exception – it’s a rule”, because domestic wood heating degrades the air quality of cities in all European countries.

Moreover, the average annual concentration of PAHs in the study conducted in Athens was lower than the EU limits, but was twice the WHO reference level. According to data from the World Health Organization, PAHs in Athens are expected to cause an additional five cancer cases per 100,000 people, the researchers say.

Given the [l’exposition aux agents cancérigènes] With the widespread use of wood heating throughout Europe, particularly in France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, European measures and policies are needed to regulate emissions from wood heating immediately, as they can have significant beneficial effects on public health.”Scientists said.

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Among the aforementioned methods, is the creation of Days Without Burning. But for Leeds University’s Alison Tomlin Jail, “It may be difficult to implement such a policy, or even to impose broader restrictions on wood heating in densely populated areas.”.


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