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Wood Burning Stove Users Needed for a Study

Wood burning stoves are becoming increasingly popular especially with the rise in energy prices for other sources of fuel.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Sheffield are studying the Burner Alert system – the first and only system in the UK. The Burner Alert System allows stove users across the UK to check air pollution levels on their street via a website before burning. It is designed to allow them to make an informed choice over whether to light their stove when the air quality outside is poor. 

Stove users from across the UK are being asked to take part in the study by completing a 15-minute survey at the start and end of a two-week period. Over this time, they will be asked to use the Burner Alert website to check air pollution levels on their street prior to lighting their stove. All participants will be entered into a draw to receive one of ten £20 Amazon vouchers.

Domestic combustion is a major source of PM emissions in 2020, accounting for 15 per cent and 25 per cent of PM10 and PM2.5, respectively. Most emissions from this source come from burning wood in closed stoves and open fires. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, coal use in domestic combustion was the largest source of particulate matter emissions; coal now accounts for a very small proportion of emissions from this source (14 per cent in 2020). The use of wood as a fuel accounted for 70 per cent of PM2.5 emissions from domestic combustion in 2020. Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic wood burning increased by 35 per cent between 2010 and 2020, to represent 17 per cent of total PM2.5. emissions in 2020.

Emissions of air pollutants in the UK – Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), DEFRA

Dr James Heydon, study lead at the University of Nottingham, said:

“Air quality can vary between areas and wood burner emissions can make it worse, particularly when many stoves are lit at once. The Burner Alert system provides people with real-time data on the air quality in their area, allowing them to make an informed decision about whether to light their stove.

“We’re interested in understanding how people with stoves use this system and whether it could help to improve air quality in different areas.”

Participants can read the information sheet and sign up to take part here: https://sway.office.com/7Jc3atVoOuMqunqX?ref=Link

Before lighting their stove, users can enter their postcode to find out the current status of pollution levels in their area. The Burner Alert system uses traffic light colour coding, indicating a different level of air quality with an accompanying recommendation for stove users:

  • Green – no alert: if air pollution over the last 24 hours is well below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 24 hour average limit, the colour will be green and no alert will be issued.
  • Amber – advisory: if air pollution is approaching the WHO’s average 24 hour limit, an advisory alert will be issued. Given that air pollution is approaching the limit, stove users are asked to consider not lighting their stoves, particularly if they have an alternative source of heat.
  • Red – burner alert: the highest level of alert available. Particulate pollution in this area is already above the WHO’s recommended limit for a 24 hour period, and as such, stove users are asked to avoid lighting their stoves, unless they have no alternative source of heating.
black wood burner
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