How much pollution comes from wood burning in London?
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Look around your neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon in winter and you’re likely to see a smoking chimney. Such anecdotal evidence points to a new popularity in domestic wood burning and this is expected to grow with new schemes to reduce CO2 emissions from heating.

Ahead of these incentives, wood burning in London was assessed by two methods: i) a six week campaign of daily measurements of a wood burning tracer along a 38 km transect across the city and ii) a three year (2009-2011) measurement programme of black carbon and particulate matter from wood burning by Aethalometer.

Analysis showed that wood burning PM was from sources within London and was not being imported from areas outside. Wood burning was slightly greater in suburban areas when compared to central London. Importantly, PM from wood burning was greatest at weekends, indicative of decorative or secondary domestic heating rather than wood being used as a main heating source.

The annual mean concentration of PM10 from wood burning was 1.1 µg m-3. To put this in a policy context, the latter is considerably greater than the city-wide mean PM10 reduction of 0.17 µg m-3 predicted from the first two phases of the London Low Emission Zone that was introduced to reduce PM from traffic sources.

The results are free to download from the Atmospheric Environment website at ScienceDirect

We would like to thank the London boroughs of Bexley, Ealing, Greenwich, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for funding and logistic support for this project.

Item date 05/03/2014

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