NSW top doctor recommends bans on woodburning (and the AHHA continues to deceive)

10 07 2014


In New South Wales they are noticing that winter air quality in Sydney is getting worse. There is a fad of increased wood burning and it is having a detrimental effect. NSW’s Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant is recommending bans and phase outs of wood burning. Here is an article about it at the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the article is the hint that Standards Australia is going to do the unforgivable and allow the wood burning industry to dictate clean air policy again, strengthening the absolutely piss weak 4.0g/kg standard on wood smoke emissions to the still piss weak 2.5g/kg. That’s really disappointing because real world emissions would need to be south of 0.001g/kg of soot per kilo of fuel for them to not cause cities and towns not to fail to meet ambient air quality standards.

Then look at this from the article:

“An Australian Home Heating Association spokeswoman questioned the findings that wood fire heaters were the main source of the fine particle pollution in winter.

“Open brick fireplaces, diesel vehicles, road and rail transport, coal-fired power generations, hazard reduction burns and bushfires all contribute to sources of PM2.5 – are these considered when discussing the source of poor air quality,” the spokeswoman said.

“We recognise wood heaters contribute to the overall air quality in built-up areas. (But) the air quality data only measures the fine particulate in the air. It has no way of measuring the source.”

It shows once again what duplicitous lying bastards the Australian Home Heating Association is. They know full well that wood burning is the leading cause of winter wood smoke pollution in Sydney. They are lying through their teeth yet again, holding everyone’s health hostage to their profit motive. Lying fucking bastards who are quite prepared for people to die so they can get another phlegm stained dollar.

Can the AHHA spokeswoman not read graphs? What are woodburners responsible for. It is under the curve you lying cretin.

Of course all wood burning should be banned. We should be listening to NSW’s Chief Medical Officer, not only in Sydney, not only in all of New South Wales, but all around the world.

Small rural burn offs cause much distress

23 06 2014

I have a day of annual leave today and I dressed to go work in the garden. I leave the house and there is a strong, unpleasant smell of smoke.

This is the reason:

It's enough to ruin my day

It’s enough to ruin my day

Yep, this guy burning a small amount of rubbish over a mile from my house was enough reason for me not to be able to work in my own gardens.

It’s a cold, breezeless morning and lets see what one little fire can do to a whole valley. That’s 3 or 4 square kilometres polluted with probably 50 or 60 people living in the area.


Well you’d think I could ring the Horizons Regional Council pollution hotline and they’d just go and ask him not to. Ideally they’d order him to extinguish the fire and tell him that he is causing annoyance and pollution and to not do it again. Yet they’ve failed to make policy that prevents it and they haven’t educated the guy that he will cause annoyance. He causes annoyance, and the rules pretend that it doesn’t happen and then if it does, you can ring the hotline and they say they’ll do something about it. But they never do anything about it. The people who work at the Horizon’s Regional Council are incompetent. The system is broken. The system needs to be fixed.

Who’d choose to live or invest in this area if this can happen to you? And it is happening to me almost as often as once a week.


Living in areas polluted with fine particles raises lung cancer risk

18 06 2014

The following article was originally published by Environmental Health News

By Brian Bienkowski Staff Writer Environmental Health News

June 12, 2014 Nonsmoking women who live many years in communities polluted with fine particles have an elevated risk of lung cancer, according to new research.

The study, which is the largest to date to examine the link, adds to mounting evidence that chronic exposure to soot may raise the risk of lung cancer, particularly among nonsmokers.

“The results are dramatic in the sense that there appears to be a substantial effect of being close to air pollution in terms of risk for cancer,” said Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior medical advisor with the American Lung Association who was not involved in the study.

Led by Harvard University researchers, the study estimated exposures of 103,650 U.S. women to three sizes of airborne particulates. They calculated how many women contracted cancer – 2,155 – between 1994 and 2010, and analyzed the pollution levels near their homes for the previous six years.

All sizes of particle pollution, particularly the smallest, or PM2.5, were linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. For every small (10-microgram per cubic meter) increase in PM2.5 the risk of lung cancer increased 37 percent among nonsmoking women or women who had quit smoking at least 10 years earlier, according to the study, which was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.


“Once you restrict to nonsmokers – people not getting bombarded with cigarette smoke – these associations do get much stronger,” said senior author Francine Laden, a Harvard professor of environmental epidemiology.

The sources of the pollutants varied. Although the research suggested that traffic played a role in the higher cancer risk, the finding was not scientifically significant because too few women in the study lived near major roads.

Spewed by trucks, buses, cars, factories and fires, fine particles can penetrate deep into lungs, raising people’s risks of respiratory problems and heart attacks.

More than 46 million Americans, or almost 15 percent, live in areas with unhealthful year-round levels of fine particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association. U.S. areas with the highest levels include the Los Angeles region, California’s Central Valley, Chicago and Houston.

In the new study, about half of the women lived in the Northeast.

The research doesn’t prove air pollution causes lung cancer. But it is the latest of multiple human health studies that have linked fine particles to lung cancer. Such studies prompted the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify particulate matter as carcinogenic to humans last year.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, killing about 160,000 Americans every year. Almost 90 percent of lung cancers are attributed to cigarette smoking, but an estimated 16,000 to 24,000 nonsmokers die of lung cancer every year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

The researchers didn’t have personal exposure for the women. Instead, they estimated their exposures by plugging local air quality data into models that took into account how close the women lived to major roads, as well as nearby industries and weather conditions.

Edelman of the American Lung Association said the study’s strength was that it looked at a period of six years of exposure instead of a snapshot in time.

However, one researcher said the study didn’t look far enough back in the women’s past. Previous exposures may be more important because cancer can develop over a period of decades.

The study uses “more or less current exposure to categorize long-term response,” said Fred Lipfert, an environmental engineer formerly of the Brookhaven National Laboratory who has published multiple articles on air pollution and health.

“The other problem I have? The words ‘indoor air’ don’t appear anywhere,” Lipfert said.

Indoor sources of particulates include cigarette smoke, cooking, wood-burners and kerosene heaters. The researchers don’t know how often the women’s windows were closed or how much time they spent outdoors, Laden said.

Laden agreed that past exposures are important, but the scientists were limited by the data. Particulates were not routinely measured a decade or two ago. “Ideally we would have exposure data for 20 years back,” she said.

Nevertheless, it’s “pretty certain that air pollution, specifically particulates, is a very important hazard,” Laden said. “We’re not sure that there’s any safe level.”

Don’t sit this one out

16 06 2014


Woodheaters only “partly to blame” ? Yeah, right.

8 05 2014

Worth reading from Radio NZ – Small Towns, Bigger Air Quality Issues.

“Woodburners are partly to blame for poor air quality in smaller towns.” – yeah if “partly to blame ” means  95%-99% to blame. They should have used the words “almost entirely responsible for” and they’d have been more accurate.

When will we get serious about wood smoke?

The elephant in the room is wood smoke pollution

The elephant in the room is wood smoke pollution

The fact is that New Zealand could get rid of 95% of it’s air pollution problems overnight with one small piece of legislation and save billions of dollars as a society to boot.


The sickness of polluting the suburbs continues

15 02 2014

What kind of mental midget thinks that wood burning is a good idea, when this is the reality of burning wood.

This kind of mental midget who manufactures wood burners and wants to condemn the general public to the smoke they spew out?

But that’s an old wood burner you’d say and why don’t they swap it out for a new one? Well becasue new ones stink to high shit as well:

It’s time to move beyond wood burning. It is not only time to ban wood burning. It is time to criminalise it.

A conversation with woodburner manufacturers

16 12 2013

This is an interesting exchange with some woodburner manufacturers. It’s pretty clear that not only are they wilfully ignorant of the harm that wood smoke does, they are clearly completely deluded.

Back in April I must have been annoyed with the dubious claims (let’s not quite call them lies, even if lies they be) on a certain NZ woodstove manufacturer’s website – “Heat your entire home with one of our wood burners. Carbon neutral and sustainable, wood is the cheapest form of home heating” they claim (is there a Trade Practices Act in New Zealand I wonder) Carbon neutral, really? Conveniently ignoring the methane and soot. Cheapest? Really? It depends on the local price of wood and whether you knick it from a forest or not, and whether you include the external costs to the community (estimated at $2000 a year per burner in Sydney, NSW, and the figures for NZ are below,  but let’s like the industry, conveniently ignore those substantial externalised costs, shall we?). And of course on the website hardly a mention of emissions, nor of the harm that wood smoke does. Not one mention of the HAPINZ study with the estimated death rates attributable to wood smoke. Such an inconvenient truth all those diseases that wood smoke causes hey?

They, for some of their stoves, claim 0.7 g/Kg emission rating (I’ll leave it as an aside, but that is still a whole lot of pollution even if they could get their stoves that low).

So I sent an initial enquiry on their website, but I can’t remember what it was exactly.

Here’s the first reply  from April 2nd: (I’ll put their replies in a nice bullshit brown colour)

Subject: Re: Brand X Website Enquiry

Matthew, no need for that as our fires meet the tough Christchurch regulations(1g/kg)which are stricter than all but the tiny pockets of Central Otago (.7/kg)such as Arrowtown, Cromwell etc. The national level is 1.5g/kg everywhere else apart from Hastings City and Nelson City where they are the same 1g/kg as Christchurch . If you wish to know the exact emissions level of each wood fire we produce go onto our website (address below) and on the home page we have a resources tab. Hit this tab and go to installation instructions. This document on page  3 has all the certification numbers and emissions level.

 Richard X

My replies will be in green.

Do you provide real world figures ? The study at http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/Reports/air-report-emissions-residential-wood-burning-appliances-nz-000805.pdf  suggests that laboratory tests are largely meaningless and the real rates for supposed 1.5 g/kg fires can be around 13 or 15 g/kg, which is also backed up by this study here: http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/emission-factor.html and the supposedly clean fires have only reduced not eliminated the problems in Arrowtown, Cromwell etc.

So I am inclined to think the whole industry is based on bullshitting the customers (and the poor bastards who live next door to your customers

And I don’t know why you’d claim that 1g/kg are “tough regulations” at all. It should be more like 0.05g/kg and the heaters should actually be proven to work at that level in the real world with a typical idiot mug punter using it (as the real world is full of them).


Italics for emphasis are mine.
On 2/04/2013 4:14 p.m., Richard X wrote:
Matthew we make some of the cleanest fires in NZ which well and truly pass the prescribed emissions and efficiency tests BUT all that goes out the  window when an end user puts wet wood or a plastic milk bottle or whatever in the fire. We can hardly be responsible for users who couldn`t care less about emissions.  If people are serious about emissions, as you obviously are, then the easiest way to reduce them is to regulate the fuel so people use only
clean dry firewood and use the fire as we instruct. If that was the case there would be a huge difference to air quality. The standard is set by government, not the manufacturers and is a somewhat artificial but nevertheless empirical test. We manufacture fires that comply with those test standards – otherwise we couldn`t sell woodburners so to call the manufacturers bullshitters is a bit harsh don`t you think. I called the Christchurch standards (1g/kg) tough, not because we can`t meet them easily as we do but because these levels are substantially below the national standard of 1.5g/kg. In fact we manufacture and sell fires below the even tougher .7 standard of those little pockets within Central Otago . These fires such as our XXXX for example are sold nation wide so we at XXXX are actually manufacturing and selling fires that are well below the required standard of most regions. As you said in your last sentence it is the “mug punters” that upset the effort we put in to make a clean fire.

 Richard X
No I think it is fair to call woodburner manufacturers bullshitters. There is a huge amount of misleading advertising and greenwash in the industry. I think there is a lot of greenwash on your website too (burning wood is not carbon neutral when you consider the methane or a few other factors, nor is the price guide taking into account the efficiency of heatpumps (my 8.2 kilowatt heatpump costs 2.4KWh)so you should really divide the 15 or 20 c/kw/h by 3 or 4 to get the real figure). I don’t believe that your models match the advertised rates in the real world (and yes I agree that a lot of that is beyond your control, but it will always be beyond your control, so that is the real world, and we can’t discount how your products are actually used.)

Yes Arrowtown had a better 2012 than 2011, but it still needs to get cleaner still, and I don’t think it is going to get there with products as clean as your cleanest ones.

Also the 50ug of PM10 /m3  standard needs tightening, because 50 ug is still too high and causes too many detrimental health effects. In 2007 the Australian standards comittee looking at it recommending halving it
to 25ug/m3 and it got vetoed by the AHHA (which is a HUGE conflict of interest)

As someone who had to move away from a supposedly clean heater (not one of yours) that still polluted me out of my home I am very sensitive, not to smoke, but to greenwash. When weighing up the evidence I really can’t see that there is any technology apart from maybe very expensive scrubbers that could make it that wood burners aren’t going to continue be a pain in the arse for our whole society. I think that going for “clean” burners that aren’t really that clean is wasting time. We’re going to have to go to complete prohibition as the failure of them in the central Otago towns become all the more apparent. Christchurch is going to have another awful winter of many exceedances. I got offered a well paid job at Airways. Any guess why I took a lower paying job in a cleaner city?


Keep in mind this from HAPINZ 2012 while reading Richard’s next reply. This is the reality – “Emissions from domestic fires are on average 2.5 times greater than emissions from motor vehicle sources nationally. However, in most South Island and central North Island locations, impacts from domestic fires are well in excess of the 2.5 average, with values from domestic fires ranging from 3.8 times greater than for motor vehicles in Christchurch City to 16 in Central Otago District (with many TLAs around 10).” Who’s conveniently forgetting” here Richard? Me or you?Also what is the actual uptime for electricity supply in New Zealand? >99%?

It is apparent you feel very strongly on the matter and I don`t think I am likely to change your opinion. I note you link wood fires to Christchurch air quality conveniently forgetting dust from demolition, dust in the air, vehicle emissions etc etc (it is as I am sure you know a particulate measurement measuring particles of PM10 and under and does not identify the origin of those particles). The carbon exchange you mention and we refer to is strictly related to
carbon balance. Would you outlaw farting as I understand most intestinal gas consists of methane which you mention as being released when operating a fire. I`m sure there is much more methane released by humans and animals than wood fires. What are you going to do about the explosion of the human population in the world which is a significant contributor to methane release as is decomposition of plant material, a natural process of a living planet? You seem to have a somewhat selective perspective but fortunately there is room for different opinions in our society. Don`t forget the good and the pleasure our products provide. We keep people out of the health system. How would you stay warm, cook your food and provide light when the power goes off. Many people were very grateful for our appliances when power supply failed.

Richard X

Not much construction dust or vehicle emissions in Alexandra, Arrowtown, Clyde or Cronwell. But typical of the pro-burner groups always wanting to blame others and they are mighty prone to stupid arguments – your farting argument- check.

“Don`t forget the good and the pleasure our products provide.” and don’t you forget the bad and the misery they also provide.

Matthew (a victim of wood smoke pollution)

PS this reply of yours which I consider not very worthwhile sees me making your company next on my Greenwash targets

Strangely he seems quite ok with him being able to dictate where I live. Well why can’t I live wherever the fuck I want? Why should his ilk dictate to me where I can live or not? How is that not a sign of psychopathy?

Again notice it is also not the smoke causing the problems, it’s the lack of wind. Always someone to blame other than the real source of the pollution – burning of solid fuels in residential areas.

And he believes smoke is not harmful??? A class 1 carcinogen – proven cancer causing to humans is not harmful?? That is wilful ignorance. Being that stupid or that deep in denial should be a criminal offence.

Again, he wants me to solve the world’s problem, first it was overpopulation, and now it is homes that have owners who can’t seem to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. Hey buddy I am trying to save the world from a real hazard to health and wealth. I’m educating people about the harm that wood fires are doing. As for pushing for regulated dry wood for woodburners, hilarious. Regulated dry wood still burns too dirty in even the supposedly clean stoves. And as for vehicle testing and cheaper electricity I’d support both, but I won’t fall into his little strawman trap.

And don’t I just love “As I said look at the BIG picture – cars, humans and animals, life processes all contribute more.” I am looking at BIG picture and there is no place for dirty fuels in residential areas. If my focus was as narrow as selling woodburning stoves I might be as tunnel visioned as you Richard, but I’ve read and understood everything from the chemistry, to the epidemiology, to the economic arguments, to the monitoring data, to the policy documents to the greewash that your industry puts out. A ban on wood burning would be economic, hugely beneficial, critically urgent, achievable and highly desirable.

Matthew if you have been to Central you will know that it is a dusty dry environment and just as smoke lies sometimes on those still days so do fumes from vehicle exhausts and dust so not all wood fire created particles by any means.

Why don`t you push warmer homes by insulation incentives, regulated dry fuel for woodburners, vehicle emissions checks with WOFs, cheaper electricity etc.etc

I believe that our products create more good than harm – only a very small  minority of the population are negatively affected by smoke which by itself is not harmful – the small particles suspended within it CAN be to that small percentage of the population susceptible to brochial problems but cold homes and damp atmospheres can do them even more damage.

As I said look at the BIG picture – cars, humans and animals, life processes all contribute more.

As for yourself it seems like a windy environment is the best living environment for you as the wind blows away the many particles in the air that could cause your discomfort so Wellington, or any of our West Coastal areas is obviously best.

Richard X

I think I got a bit upset with him.

Richard, Absolute hornwsaggle. 95% plus of Central Otago problems are caused by woodsmoke.

Smoke is not harmful??????? Geez are you really ignorant of that? 1200 NZ premature deaths a year. 120 in Ch’church.

Luekaemia is caused by benzene. More benzene in CH’church is caused by wood burners than by vehicle emissions. Then there’s stroke, cardiac arrest, lung cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancers, even breast cancers. Then there is emphysema, bronchial stuff, asthma. There’s even studies out there showing it makes kids thicker by 5 IQ points. Mutagentic, Teratogenic, Carcinogenic, know what those words mean?

You really are lying to yourself, aren’t you?

And those 0.7g/kg burners haven’t fixed the problem in those Otago towns and I’m going to be screaming it from the roof tops.

Only wood burner prohibition is going to work.

I tried to live in Raumati South thinking wind would be good for me. I lasted 6 months. Thank goodness I was only renting. Then when the Wellington RC monitored Raumati South (after whinging from others rather than me, as I had already decided to move away from it) guess what? it was polluted with too many exceedences over the 50ug/m3 limit.

I don’t live in Wellington because if I lived in the suburbs, if I did find a place to live, and someone installed one of your products next door I’d have to sell up and move again. People need protection from them. They don’t perform as advertised. They are misadvertised and missold. They are not fit for purpose. That’s the problem with greenwash. People are misled into bad decisions. I and everybody else should be able to live wherever they want and can afford without having to worry about being smoked out of their homes.


That was last April, and  today, 8 month slater, I got this. From another Richard at the same company. I’ll make his blue because it kind came out of the blue. I’ve used some italics for the No Shit Sherlock moments:

Hello Mathew,

Richard X is no longer is a customer service position in our company and the new staff member came across your conversation and showed it to me. While you both actually made valid claims, the reality is somewhere in the middle. There is a need for wood burners as a low cost and effective energy source for heating but there is also a need to keep improving the emissions.

There is no denying that wood burners have been terrible emission producers in the past, but there is also no denying that with stricter emission regulations, the pollution levels are on a downwards trend. These things take time and can’t be solved overnight. The most effective way of reducing the emissions is to have everyone on the same page. If the regulatory authorities are reducing emission levels at a rate at which manufacturers can sustainably adjust to, the downward trend continues. Perhaps not at an extreme rate that you would like, but it avoids the negative reaction from the manufacturers like in Australia where any progress gets blocked.

My main reason to email you was to inform you of the new ECAN Ultra Low Emission Burner. Basically they have developed a new test which is 0.5g/kg of particle emissions but this includes start up, un-seasoned wet wood and hard wood. The idea is to lower the emissions from 1g to .5g but to also represent a more realistic test which reflects real world results. We have a fire currently in the lab right now going through the testing.

I suspect what will happen is that if there are some appliances which pass this regulation, then it will most likely be adopted by other local authorities and become the national benchmark.

It’s very early days yet, but most manufacturers are starting work on this new product.

My point is to not make hasty generalizations about the industry and especially our company, I am personally dedicated to reducing the emissions of our fires. Our most popular fire in the last 3 years has been our XXXX YYYYY which has an emission rating of 0.37g/kg, making it one of the cleanest on the market, but our ultimate goal would be to have all our fires pass the ULEB requirement and we have dedicated significant resources into developing technology in order to do so.

Feel free to contact me if you would like any clarification.

Richard Y

Funnily enough we have the same aim. I too am dedicated to reducing the emissions from his products, but unlike him, I deal with reality, so I just want the stupid dirty things banned. 0.37g/kg laboratory testing of course is probably 10g/kg real life, and a natural gas burning heater  is about 0.01g/kg. So really wood is about 1,000 times dirtier than burning natural gas, and gas is still dirtier than electricity. 98% of electricity on the South Island is hydro generated too. I think it is completely morally bankrupt to burn wood in any town on the South Island, except probably the wee-est of them (and even then in winter Ranfurly or Tuatapere, two places I’ve stayed in in winter can be unpleasant)

Anyway here is my reply:

You actually believe the shit you just wrote? I don’t.

The problem can be solved overnight. And your fires’ emissions can be got down to zero. All you have to do is not light them and legislate them out of existence.

Your industry has made promises before and has absolutely failed to deliver. You’ve had years to work on cleaner products. Your industry is a total failure, and are total shysters. Your real goal is to pull the wool over people’s eyes and to waste more time, delaying the inevitable, which is a total ban on solid fuel burning in residential neighborhoods.

I see the “ultra-clean” burners mandated in central Otago have completely failed to live up to promises. Real world emissions will continue to be higher than you measure in the laboratory, because education on how to use a burner to minimise the emissions has failed every time it has been tried. The education campaigns are all wrong. Lesson number 1 should always be to not to use wood. It is still a complete myth that wood can be burnt cleanly. It can’t. And even if your stoves did achieve 0.37g in the real world (don’t make me laugh) it is still two orders of magnitude worse than what is needed.

The only emissions abatement project that has worked in the real world is where wood burning stoves have been changed out for non-wood burning products.

Again your industry will fail to deliver better air, and still people will dire prematurely, there will still be neighborhood fights caused by wood smoke and people will still be forced out of their homes.

Give up, and get an honest job. Your industry is a joke.

PM2.5s cause harm at less than 5 micrograms per cubic metre. One wood burner in a neighborhood can easily exceed that under regular and common conditions. Why does your industry fail to recognise the not very high intellectual hurdle linking stove emissions and ambient air quality? Please support legislation that will actually work to protect air quality and that is prohibition.


The woodstove manufacturing industry really is staffed by idiots who seem to be in complete denial about the harm that they are actively inflicting onto the community. The HAPINZ report put the economic cost on the community of each wood burner in New Zealand (including all the ones on farms and remote rural properties) at $2.38 billion and $0.93 billion on motor vehicles (2006 dollars).

HAPINZ 2012 says: The total social costs associated with anthropogenic air pollution in New Zealand are estimated to be $4.28 billion per year or $1,061 per person, with the following contributions attributed to each source:

 – 56 per cent due to domestic fires
 – 22 per cent due to motor vehicles
 – 10 per cent due to industry
 – 12 per cent due to open burning.
Whilst banning motor vehicles or shutting down industry would be economically devastating, the other two pollution sources on the list are eminently disposable. There are clean and arguably cheaper replacements for wood burners (capex of heatpumps is relatively expensive, but opex is cheap – that’s called an investment) and most open burning is completely unnecessary (I get by composting, mulching and chipping, and I can’t see why others shouldn’t be expected to do the same) It means the country could save $2.9 billion dollars annually by simply banning wood burning and open burning. And it would also save hundreds, if not thousands of lives.
The real tragedy here is that that is not government policy already, and why isn’t it government policy already? Because those in power have listened to the industry and not to me. That was clearly a tragic error of judgement. The woodburner manufacturing  industry participants are clearly demented.


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