Is wood smoke really dangerous?
A solid body of scientific evidence has confirmed that wood smoke is bad for our health. Smoke from wood heaters has a lot in common with tobacco smoke. Both are organic fuels and when they burn they give off very similar compounds. Particulate matter, especially those particles known as PM2.5, are the most worrying. Children and the elderly are most at risk from PM2.5. These particles lodge in the lungs and can trigger or worsen respiratory illnesses like asthma, pneumonia and middle ear infections. Because they can also enter the bloodstream, PM2.5 particles can raise blood pressure and cause inflammation, increasing overall risks of cardiovascular disease.
It’s important we share the truth about wood smoke. The more aware people are of the dangers, the more likely they are to act.
We’re too small to be the Big Smoke
Unfortunately, Armidale’s air quality is affected by our climate and location. Because of the cold winters, thousands of homes burn wood for heating. And because of the valley that we live in, combined with low winds, wood smoke gets trapped over the town.The good news is that we can fix the problem – if we all work together. When operated properly, the vast majority of wood heaters will burn without smoking excessively. Laboratory tests by experts have shown that operating a wood stove properly, burning a hot fire with dry wood, can reduce smoke levels by up to 90%.
What’s being done to fix the problem?
A lot. With help from NSW EPA, Armidale Regional Council conducts smoke patrols on a regular basis. We’re serious about improving Armidale’s air quality and we believe that with hard work and your help we really can make a difference.
Council has prepared a helpful video to give residents some instructions and tips to reducing wood smoke.
Monitoring the air we breathe
Council monitors the level of wood smoke in our air, and other fine airborne particles, collectively known as PM2.5 particles through a DustTrak 8520TM aerosol monitor on the roof of the Civic Administration building on Rusden Street.
This type of equipment is normally operated by state government departments and universities but Council has been collecting this data every five minutes since June 2008.
Want to check the data yourself?
You can find the weekly DustTrak data and graphs in the links below to give you an idea of relative pollution levels. Currently the safe maximum daily average for PM2.5 concentration is 25 µg/m³.
Dustrak Summary March 07 - 13 March 2017 (PDF 134.8KB)
Dustrak Summary 27 February - 06 March 2017 (PDF 128.2KB)
Published on 27 May 2016