Air quality

Air Quality Now. One-hour average PM10 concentration
Aleja Krasińskiego
123 µg/m3 (godzina 21:00)
Nowa Huta
89 µg/m3 (godzina 24:00)
62 µg/m3 (godzina 23:00)


Why Wood is Also Dangerous?

Why Wood is Also Dangerous?

Many people understand and support the postulate to introduce in Krakow a total ban on the use of coal in individual heating systems . At the same time, the same people are often surprised, even outraged when they find out that the ban also includes wood burning for heating purposes (ie, excluding the use of wood in the catering ), also in fireplaces . Why is that?
Such reactions are understandable. Firstly, for many of us wood seems to be something 'natural', 'green' or clean, and we think that its combustion does not cause significant contamination of the environment and therefore does not adversely affect human health [ 1 ].
Secondly, many asscociate the smell of smoke coming from burning wood with nice memories- fireplace , vacation, or the taste of freshly baked bread.
Thirdly, in contrast to coal smoke, we encounter the smoke coming from burning wood  less often, and it's concentration is not so high, so it doesn't  seem to us unpleasant or suffocating.
Unfortunately , in reality, the use of wood for heating purposes carries similar consequences as the use of coal. Of course, comparing the dangers of burning wood and coal depends on both the type of fuel, as well as on the heating device and the way we burn in it.
However, numerous studies (selected references to the literature given below ) clearly show that, compared with average or good-quality coal, wood burning causes comparable or even greater emissions (measured by the amount of harmful substances produced per unit of energy of the fuel , such as grams / megajoule , g / MJ), both of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and particulate matter ( PM 10 , PM 2.5) [ 2]. Of course, it causes certain health consequences .
Often emerging argument for excluding fireplaces from the ban, is that their number of them is small, and therefore they don't contribute significantly to the current disastrous state of the Krakow air. Firstly, this is not true. Number of fireplaces in Krakow is estimated at about 12 thousand . (research conducted by CEM Market and Public Opinion Research Institute). Secondly, excluding the wood from the ban may result, in the coming years, a significant increase in the amount of fireplaces used (especially in SFH ), as an extra , or even the main source of heat.
Another argument for the elimination of wood burned in fireplaces is the fact that users of such devices are mostly  wealthy people who are able to bear the higher costs of heating. In addition, a traditional fireplace can be replaced by one in which we burn gas or alcohol, which allows to continue enjoying the decorative qualities of the fireplace, without having a negative impact on the environment . We believe that clean air is worth to bear the sacrifices.


[1] "Health effects of wood smoke"

[1] The only advantage of wood over coal is that it is the renewable energy source. However, this has no health significance.
[2] One could argue at this point that the combustion of very low quality coal , such as coal dust , often , unfortunately, with the addition of garbage, is certainly more burdensome for the environment than burning wood. Probably so, but we are talking here about the fuel (coal dust), which should not at all be admitted to trading and use.