The other concern people have is the effect on forests from harvesting wood to burn. Residential wood burning also produces a laundry list of other pollutants such as mercury, carbon monoxide, greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides. Not all firewood is harvested specifically to be burned. The VOCs react with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone and with water vapor to form acid rain. The picture at left from the EPA makes the point that a contemporary EPA-certified wood burning stove is not only more efficient in terms of heat produced, it also burns wood much more cleanly. But done well, it can be part of an environmentally sound mix. As they grow, trees remove carbon from the atmosphere. The pungent scent of wood burning often evokes memories of simpler, more natural pleasures such as campouts or evenings around a fireplace. Burning in a fireplace is a rapid form of oxidation. Wood smoke is air pollution. It’s as simple as that. But trees are a renewable resource. The fact is, done poorly wood burning can have a negative environmental impact. You might think that using your fireplace or woodstove is not a big problem, but wood smoke pollution really adds up: In the winter months, burning wood accounts for more than 30% of the particle pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of this would wind up in a landfill if not used as firewood. The motivation for this isn’t altruistic. For example, three trees may be growing too close together for all of them to do well as mature trees. Burning wood releases more CO 2 than gas, oil and even coal for the same amount of heat, so to make it climate neutral we need an increase in forests The Wood Heat Organization was formed to support the public in the responsible use of wood energy in the home. As a result, there are currently an estimated 1.5 million households in the UK with a wood burning stove, with around 200,000 more stoves being sold every year. These factors are very much under our control we can minimize the environmental effect of wood burning to a very acceptable level. Wood burning stoves have the potential to produce harmful fumes and cause damage to the environment. Effects on the user include respiratory and eye problems. The concerns fall into a couple of categories. People with these concerns picture clear-cut forests. Click here to return to the Alternative Energy Primer home page from The Environmental Effects of Wood Burning page. Get smart with the Thesis WordPress Theme from DIYthemes. Do Wood Stove Changeout Programs Actually Work? That carbon is released into the atmosphere when we burn a log. But done well, it can be part of an environmentally sound mix. Many people worry about the environmental effects of wood burning. The trees growing to replace the tree we burned will reclaim the carbon from the air. The extent of this problem depends on the species of wood and the quality of charcoal, both of which are becoming poorer. The remaining tree will be more valuable for lumber in the future. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, burned wood releases more particle pollution than the entire region’s vehicles and businesses. Wood burning is the second largest source of dioxins in the Bay Area. Burning woodfuels within the household creates indoor pollution as firewood and charcoal both produce smoke on burning. An actively managed forest can actually be a more vibrant and attractive ecosystem than one left alone. Our modern stoves are designed to produce few emissions, whilst also keeping your energy bills down. Burning properly dried wood also minimizes the particulate output from a fire. And no other way of heating your home adds as much beauty and comfort on a cold winter night as a wood burning fire. Even if the tree is left to grow old, die and rot in the forest, the carbon in it will be released as it decomposes. However, at Contura, we pride ourselves on efficient combustion rates. We fulfill our mandate by providing reliable information, by conducting research into wood heating-related issues and by representing the public interest in discussions of policies that affect … When a forester selects the weakest appearing two to harvest for firewood, the remaining tree thrives and the forest is healthier for it. You hear a lot about carbon footprint these days, meaning how much carbon a given activity adds or subtracts from the atmosphere. Wood smoke is air pollution. You hear a lot about carbon footprint these days, meaning how much carbon a given activity adds or subtracts from the atmosphere. How does Forest Harvesting Affect Nitrogen in so comparisons regarding the environmental performance of homes using wood and other building materials could be materials made from wood have been shown to present significantly lower impacts to the environment, While it is true that some short-sighted people might clear cut a woodlot for a quick short term profit, that’s not standard practice. Besides, we can’t avoid the carbon being released into the atmosphere. Most people responsible for wood lots manage them for the long term. The Environmental Impact of Wood Smoke. These dioxins end up in the bay, ocean, creeks, and soil, where they accumulate in fish and livestock, poisoning our food supply. The fact is, done poorly wood burning can have a negative environmental impact. Rotting on a forest floor is also oxidation, just slower. The effect of burning wood is close to neutral with regards to carbon. Why EPA Certified Stoves Are Not the Answer. Wood burning stoves have captured the interest of many homeowners; the combination of cheap heating and a cosy focal point within the property is an appealing idea. Is Burning Wood Bad for the Environment?. Wood Burning and Carbon Footprint. You might think that using your fireplace or woodstove is not a big problem, but wood smoke pollution really adds up: In the winter months, burning wood accounts for more than 30% of the particle pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area. Others point out that burning wood is still burning and a source of air pollution. Because oil and gas are used to harvest the wood, the carbon footprint isn’t entirely neutral, but it’s pretty small. Trees taken down by maintenance crews and tree surgeons are used as firewood. Families for Clean Air Launches Air Monitoring Network Focused on Wood Smoke Pollution, New Paper Examines Effects of Wood Smoke Pollution on Children’s Health, More Evidence that “Clean” Wood Burning Isn’t Clean, Catalytic Wood Stoves Shown to Increase Dioxin Emissions. It’s as simple as that. Some have to do with the effects of harvesting trees to provide fuel.