What’s carcinogenic in wood smoke

28 10 2015

Let’s correlate this Guardian report called The 116 things that can give you cancer – the full list that the International Agency for Research on Cancer  considers to now cause cancer with this list of what’s in woodsmoke.
These are the things on the list, and this is only class 1 carcinogens, which means proven carcinogens.

7 chimney sweeping – yep the oldest recognised of industrial diseases, where chimney sweeps get cancer of the testes.
36 Soots
40 Acetaldehyde43 Arsenic
46 Benzene
48 Benzo(a)pyrene
55 Cadmium
58 Chromium
73 Formaldehyde
89 Nickel compounds
93 Outdoor Air pollution
94 particulate matter in outdoor air pollution
95 Phosphorus

Then there are class IIa, which are probable carcinogens, which include amongst others:
Household combustion of biomass fuel (primarily wood), indoor emissions from.

And the class IIb, which are possible carcinogens, which include, amongst others:
Ethyl benzene

If you don’t want to be breathing in all these chemicals that cause cancer there is only one answer, and that is to remove the source of these chemicals, which means banning wood burning. Woodsmoke causes cancer. It kills.


Public disinformation programmes do not solve the problem of woodsmoke pollution

25 10 2015

Canterbury has an air quality problem.

Let’s Clean the Air is a response to the problem. But it is a completely bonkers, messed in the head response to the problem of wood smoke pollution.
Let’s state what the problem is:
People burning wood think they burn clean. The reality is that burning wood is a filthy fuel that kills and harms and pollutes.


But then what does Let’s Clean the AIr tell us? They tell us how to burn wood cleanly. What? There is no way to burn clean.

They tell us to always burn clean dry wood. But that doesn’t fix the problem!!!!! Burning clean, dry wood, in a supposedly “clean” modern woodburner, still leads to particulate pollution emission levels that are way too high. It seems to be that no matter how the woodburner performs in the laboratory it will burn at anything up to 13 or 15 g/kg in the real world. See this study or this study.

They tell us to check the age of our woodburners. But new ones are just as polluting as old ones. They only want to sell you a new one. What people should do is junk their old shitty woodburner and put in a nice gas one, or put in heat pumps.

They tell us to that ultra clean wood burners are available. They average 0.2 or 0.4g of PM2.5s per kg of fuel . This is still between one and two orders of magnitude more than natural gas, and remember those studies, this study or this study which show that laboratory results are nothing like real world results and those supposedly “clean” woodburners will be averaging 9 or 10g/kg in the real world, and some possibly much higher.

And remember punters that if any woodheater actually was going to have low emissions they don’t throw off much heat. They’re a pretty useless way to heat a home.

Let’s take a look at what the NZ Ministry of the Environment study called “Real-life emissions from residential woodburning appliances in New Zealand” said in it’s executive summary:
“The most important findings of the study were:
• Real-life emissions measured from the four low emission wood burners were substantially higher than the 3 g/kg emission factor typically used for this group of appliances.
•The AS/NZS 4012/3 test method is not indicative of real-life emissions because of thewide range of variables, behaviours and installations evident in the field. Thus, reallife emissions could not be predicted from the AS/NZS 4012/3 test results”

Yet we’re mean to trust all the manufacturers’ testing to a meaningless standard is really indicative of how much emissions they are going to achieve? Yeah, right. The only guarantee is that they’ll be dirtier than advertised. Are the recommended models really as clean as they pretend they are being? Of course not, You’ve probably got more chance of that if you own a diesel Volkswagen.

This is what we are supposed to believe Let’s Clean the Air is going to achieve:


But this is going to be the reality of what they are going to achieve:


The programme is not based on science. It is based on marketing hype and wishful thinking. Why are the governments involved being so piss weak in actually trying to improve Christchurch’s and neighbouring towns’ air quality? Why don’t they stand up for residents instead of listening to the bullshit disinformation put out by the industry organisation, the NZHHA?

Where are the councils’ backbones? On behalf of residents you should all be telling the NZHHA to get stuffed. Instead of gullibly and unquestioningly regurgitating industry propaganda, get laws passed so you can properly address wood smoke pollution, with world’s best practices. The only way to effectively mitigate wood smoke pollution is to ban burning wood. Everything else that has been tried has failed in the real world. Got that? The only proven mitigation is prohibition.

No wonder Christchurch and Canterbury towns are polluted. And it’s one hell of a shame that the problem isn’t going to be fixed with this kind of institutionalised time wasting.

Who are the residents going to sue when air quality continues to be degraded unnecessarily by woodsmoke, and people are going to keep on getting sick and dying? Are they going to sue Environment Canterbury, the Ashburton District Council, the Christchurch City Council, the Canterbury District Health Board, the South Canterbury District Health Board, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, the Timaru District Council, the Waimakariri District Council, or the Waimate District Council?  All of these have been super sucked in by non-scientific bullshit, and should know better. Shame on them all.

Let’s clean the air indeed, but this sham information programme is going to fail to do that.

Go on be brave do real world emissions testing of all your recommended models. Link those real world emissions to actual measured ambient air quality testing. Then revise your list to the models that actually don’t pollute at more than one household’s fair share of the ambient pollution limits. It would probably be an empty set. And of course the high ambient air quality limits aren’t a target to just get under, you want to be aiming towards zero.

Woodburners are just shit technology. Let’s Clean the AIr is a rubbish programme. If a household does everything the programme recommends, they buy a recommended model, they try to burn as “cleanly” as possible, and they’re still poisoning their neighbours then what? Will the polluting woodheaters be removed, and if so, at whose cost?

What a clusterfuck of a programme. Canterbury residents deserve better.

Polluters we are coming for you

10 09 2015

Back in the old days when the prick neighbour’s were smoking me out of my house and I went to court to slap an injunction on them and their bloody stupid woodburner (thanks Australian Home Heating Association you absolute fucking bastards) the judge told me I had to get some measurements as if my personal testament that it was totally fiucking annoying wasn’t good enough. Well how the hell was I supposed to do that?

Well now it would be possible. Cheap particulate pollution monitors are here:

Speck and TZOA.

Personal pollution monitoring is going to empower the victims of woodsmoke pollution to get justice.

How are the shithouse regional councils going to ignore complaints when we tell them that the PM2.5 particle count exceeds ambient air quality standards? If they ignore our complaints we will see them in court.

Now it is so cheap every school in the country should have permanent 24 hour particulate pollution monitoring. All sources of pollution near schools should be shut down.

The data will set us free.

This is a list of other models of pollution monitors .

Woodsmoke: Regulatory failure is damaging public health

6 12 2014

Dr Dorothy Robinson of the University of New England in New South Wales, writes this important paper on the regulatory failure of woodsmoke and the damage it is doing to public health.

Published in the journal Air Quality and Climate Change, Volume 48, No. 4

Central Otago’s polluted towns get a guernsey. I even get a reference for Hey Central Otago, what’s Plan B?

The New Zealand Herald is completely clueless: reason #1

9 11 2014

The New Zealand Herald, fresh from its election season of pushing right wing candidates, is riling against Auckland Council’s push to regulate open fires, not for their inadequacy and ineffectiveness (by still allowing polluting wood heaters) but from some messed in the head libertarian viewpoint. Take this stupid cartoon:
FFS  it is not because of the power companies that the rules are being introduced. It is for the pollution they cause, and they don’t go damn well far enough. If you want financial independence from power companies install solar panels, insulate your home and wear warm socks. If you want cheaper electricity prices vote the opposite to what the Herald wants you to do, and vote against continued privatisations of electricity assets, but this is the reality dumbasses, the smoke does not go up andhouses don’t sit in beautiful isolation from another.


The truth is that your neighbour’s smoke is killing you and some people don’t want you to have any say about it.

We need to have a basic right to clean air. We need 100% prohibition on wood burning.

Sam Morgan’s a bit of a dill

24 10 2014

Wanaka residents have every right to be angry with Sam Morgan as shown in this article from the Otago Daily Times.
Yes Sam was a bit of a dill for thinking he could burn off without annoying people, but he is not the only one at fault. The Otago Regional Council and the Otago Rural Fire Authority are both complicit by having policies that aren’t based on the reality of what burn offs are like in this, the real world, where smoke from fires doesn’t go up in the air out of harms way like a child’s drawing of a chimney on a house does.

It is all well and good saying ”If smoke is obnoxious beyond the boundary, then it is considered that it would be an offence.” but all burn offs either piss someone off, or very much have the potential to. Unless someone lives on some huge station then the smoke is going to cross their property boundaries onto neighboring and even distant properties and the smoke will cross onto roads. The law that allows burn offs in the first place is very much at fault. The law needs to be changed to reflect the reality of the situation. The residents of Wanaka need to be protected from the likes of the unthinking Sam Morgan, and others like him, and up and down the country everyone needs to be protected from this kind of stupid behaviour.


No Shit Sherlock!!!!

15 10 2014

“The air is not as clear in Napier as previously thought – with monitoring showing pollution from winter fires is much higher in some suburbs than others.” – from this story on Stuff.

Well No Shit Sherlock!!!

If they measure it in suburban places where they haven’t measured it before , why the hell are they surprised that there is poor air quality?

It’s the same old story. There are too many woodburners and they just don’t do enough monitoring.

The ambient air quality standards (of PM10 50ug/m3 averaged over 24 hours, with no more than 1 exceedance a year) are a shit standard that allow for much harm and death and really should be tightened, but the aim shouldn’t be to just comply with them. The aim should be to get as close to zero as possible.

From another news story, this time on ABC Australia:

“Deadly air pollution continues to be a problem in Australia because air quality standards are being misused, say experts.

The standards governing six key outdoor pollutants are being interpreted as an acceptable upper limit of pollution, says health statistician Associate Professor Adrian Barnett of the Queensland University of Technology.

But, he adds, this approach is not supported by scientific evidence.”
To paraphrase the A. Professor: “He says many reports to state governments imply it is safe to pollute up to the limits provided in the National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality (Air NEPM), but the governments are getting bad advice.”

113 people die each year in Hawke’s Bay. 1175 across all of New Zealand.

They die because politicians have failed at their jobs. The current policies around wood burning are what you get when there is a systemic failure of our governance. They are what we get when we have dumb and gutless politicians.

Wiseup thicko politicians. People are dying on your watch.

We could do more monitoring, paid for by putting an annual tax on woodburners. but the monitoring will tell the same story. Woodburners make pollution. It’s all wood burners. It’s all solid fuels. How much evidence do we need to go to a full ban on all sold fuel burning? We should be tracking at background particulate levels, not bumping around at 50 micrograms of PM10s. Of course we need a ban. It’s elemental my Dear Watson.


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