Health Impacts

Air pollution in London exceeds the World Health Organization’s guideline levels. Burning wood, coal and other solid fuels at home emits dangerous pollution known as fine particulate matter (often referred to as PM2.5), which is a known carcinogen and can cause asthma, heart disease and other serious illnesses affecting our lungs, hearts and brains. Exposure to particulate air pollution can also trigger the symptoms of existing health conditions.

Current evidence suggests there is no safe level of PM2.5 particulate matter air pollution and domestic wood burning contributes 17% of London’s PM2.5 air pollution.

To raise awareness of the health impact of wood burning (and other solid fuels) the London Wood Burning Project (LWBP) undertook a Health Impact Evaluation that assessed and monetised these impacts across the Greater London region.

Domestic solid fuel burning can be both a contributor to outdoor air pollution and a cause of indoor air pollution as levels of PM2.5 pollution can be three times higher in homes using wood burning stoves. This can have a significant impact as people in the UK spend 80-90% of their time indoors, 60% of this at home.

Some of the key findings of the health impacts evaluation are that every year PM2.5 causes the following health impacts:

3,400 life-years lost
3 weeks reduction in life expectancy
284 equivalent deaths
80 respiratory hospital admissions
60 new cases of stroke
50 new cases of coronary heart disease
30 new cases of lung cancer
90 new cases of asthma in children

The annual monetised impacts include:

health costs £187m per year
economic costs £10m per year
cost per London resident £24 per year

There are many organisations supporting or conducting research into the health impacts of PM2.5 pollution:

Read the full report here.

Member London Boroughs