‘Eco’ wood stoves emit 750 times more pollution than a heavy truck, study shows

‘Eco’ wood stoves emit 750 times more pollution than a heavy truck, study shows

Only eco-design stoves can be legally sold from 2022 – but experts say the standard is shockingly weak.

New wood-burning stoves billed as more environmentally friendly still emit 750 times more tiny particle pollution than a modern HGV truck; a report has shown.

Only stoves that meet the eco-design standard can be legally sold from the start of 2022 in the UK and EU, but experts said the regulation was shockingly weak.

The report used data on the emissions produced by stoves in perfect laboratory conditions. The researchers said the pollution could be even higher in everyday use, with older stoves being much worse.

Tiny particle pollution – called PM2.5 – is especially harmful to health as it can pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and then be carried around the body and lodge in organs. At least 40 000 early deaths a year are attributed to wood burning in Europe.

“These stoves can be highly dangerous to health.”

“The most surprising thing was how weak the ecodesign regulation is; that was shocking for me,” said Kåre Press-Kristensen, the lead author of the analysis and senior adviser at the Green Transition Denmark NGO. “It means a new wood stove, fulfilling the strictest regulation we have and burning just one kilogramme of wood under optimal conditions, will pollute one million cubic metres of immaculate air up to the World Health Organization’s [new] guideline level.”

The report said that using wood-burning stoves should end to tackle deadly air pollution and boost health, with heat pumps and district heat networks deployed instead. “The green transition is actually about stopping burning things,” Press-Kristensen said.

Domestic wood burning is the single most significant source of PM2.5 air pollution in the UK, producing three times more pollution than road traffic. The situation is the same in the EU, with home stoves emitting about half of all PM2.5 and soot. Just 8% of the UK population uses wood burners, and many are affluent people choosing a wood fire for aesthetic reasons rather than to heat their homes.

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