Air Quality Data Collection

One of the aims of the London Wood Burning Project is to increase our understanding of the impacts of wood burning, particularly in London. We therefore commissioned Imperial College London to monitor pollution levels from real world burning.

The study measured solid fuel and wood burning at a household, neighbourhood and city-wide level as follows:

  • Monitoring of indoor and outdoor pollution levels in five different homes using a range of different stove and fuel types.
  • Use of portable monitors along two transects of London.
  • Measurements from the Breathe London monitoring network.
  • Examination of data from Defra’s Black Carbon network.

The monitoring conducted at the five example homes saw increases in PM2.5 pollution indoors, associated with fire lighting and refuelling. Increases were also found for cooking and cigarette smoke. Outdoors there were measurable increases in ground level PM2.5, again linked to fire lighting and refuelling. While benefits were seen from using newer appliances with higher efficiency ratings, indoor and outdoor pollution was still detected. This study did not find a noticeable difference in pollution levels detected when using authorised or exempt fuels.

The backpack-mounted portable monitors were able to pick up wood burning sources at points along the transect and found that measurements of higher levels of solid fuel burning matched well with modelling data as well as when smells of wood burning were indicated. This suggested smell might be a good indicator of burning.

Investigation of the Breathe London network found that high levels of PM2.5 at some sites could potentially be linked to higher levels of solid fuel and wood burning, and that this could be a potential area to research further in the future to help identify wood burning hotspots.

Examination of two urban background sites, that are part of Defra’s Black Carbon network, found 8-9% of the total annual mean PM2.5 was from wood and solid fuel burning, with over half of this from within London. The contribution of wood burning was found to be higher during the winter, when there are greater levels of indoor burning, than during the summer.

You can find out more about this study by reading the full report.

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