I live in an area where wood burning is an unfortunate “cozy” habit for the people around me. So, I decided to see if patterns appear after monitoring the ambient air quality for 30 days in order to identify if there is any window that will allow me to open the windows and get some fresh & clean air. For the sake of simplicity, I will use only PM2.5 values.
I don’t mind if I have to wake up at 3:00 AM in order to allow some outdoor air to come inside and dilute some VOC and CO2 that build up. Indoors, PM2.5 concentrations are kept well under 5μg/m3 because I run the air purifiers 24/7. By the way in a recent, poster the position of the air purifier inside the house plays an important role in how well particles are captured.
Anyway, let’s jump into the data I collected and analyzed.
In my effort to help clean air communities to raise awareness (I am not only words), I decided to design three simple circular stickers which I will distribute to the communities once the poll is closed and you have selected the best sticker.
Choose one between the three of them and apply to get stickers once the poll is closed. You can apply for the winning sticker via the contact page. Thank you!
Although some people claim that the wood-burning season doesn’t exist anymore because people never stop burning stuff (and this is true in some regions), the vast majority of the population can’t wait for cold weather to arrive in order to light the “cozy” wood stoves and unconsciously chock the village with toxic smoke.
Yes, wood-stoves even the ECO friendly or low-emissions or EPA certified or you name it, are huge polluters! They emit lots of particulate matter (commonly known as PM2.5) and a huge array of toxic chemicals that sometimes linger in the air for many days. Air pollution kills 13 people every minute worldwide and scientists at Harvard University found that dwellers who live in polluted areas are 15% more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who do not!
The atmospheric conditions and the geographical location of a village or city work in a complex way sometimes in favor of the dwellers but most of the time against the dwellers. When a city is surrounded by hills and mountains air pollution tends to stay there for a long time, like in Murcia, Spain. In that case, people’s lungs work as purifiers and trap all the pollutants, as a result, we have more hospital admissions and more chances to suffer severe health effects due to the air pollution which is deposed inside our bodies. The cost to maintain public health also increases.
By comparison, wood smoke from stoves and boilers carries the highest concentration across all pollutants. One eco-certified wood stove is rated at 3.1grams/h of particulate matter which is equal to six heavy-duty lorries which are rated at 0.5grams/h of particulate matter each.
In August 2021 (summer in Northern Hemisphere), I travelled from Spain to Greece in order to visit my parents as I hadn’t see them for a long time due to the pandemic. I visited 10 countries and I evaluated the air quality with a portable air quality monitor (Atmotube PRO) but as well as the behavior of the people in these countries as they tend to have different customs when it comes to cooking or transporting around the cities.
This evaluation is very narrow because of the fact that I didn’t stay longer than a day or two in each city so take it with a pinch of salt. Also, the climatological conditions were entangled to the summer month of August and high temperatures were expected in the Mediterranean coastline. Wildfires are more likely to occur during the dry month of August and indeed I witnessed a few in the Balkans.