Image of wood burning, by Lidia Adriana.

Health effects of air pollution

Highlighting the true cost of wood burning

We want to reach more people and policymakers with evidence that shows the link between wood burning and air pollution. We believe this will help to reduce domestic burning and therefore improve air quality and people’s health.

Key info:

What are we doing together?

Domestic combustion, including wood burning, is the biggest source of the type of pollution that is most harmful to our health – fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Evidence shows that exposure to fine particulate pollution causes lifelong health issues, including lung and heart diseases, and cancer.

However, the marketing of stoves as aspirational, fashionable, and a cheaper and low-carbon option for heating homes means this type of pollution is a growing problem. An estimated 50,000 extra homes are installing new wood burners each year.

We’re supporting Global Action Plan to…

  • Galvanise and coordinate campaigning groups to work together to reduce domestic wood burning. This will include sharing information and policy positions and co-creating a theory of change.    
  • Present unambiguous evidence about the negative health, financial and environmental impacts of domestic burning. The goal is to reduce the amount of people buying wood burners, and to encourage those who already have one to burn less. 
  • Add to and promote a central hub of evidence about the links between wood burning and air pollution. This will make collaboration easier and reduce duplication between different local authority campaigns. 

Aim of the partnership

We want to inform the public and politicians about the true cost of wood burning – on our health, the economy, and the environment – and promote actions that policymakers can take to reduce wood burning. In doing so, we aim to reduce the amount of air pollution generated by domestic wood burning to improve health and reduce health inequalities in cities.

This partnership will enable organisations campaigning on wood burning to access compelling evidence, be part of a supportive network, and have shared policy positions to strengthen their case. This project will give us a clearer roadmap to reach local, regional, and national policymakers. It will also provide better insights into how we can convince people to think again before installing a wood burner or to make an active choice to burn less. 

We will add everything we learn from this project to our existing evidence base and share with other cities in the UK and beyond. It will inform future initiatives to reduce both indoor and outdoor air pollution from wood burning and to quantify the effects on our health.

Connection to our strategy

Our Health effects of air pollution programme focuses on encouraging national and local government and industry to make the changes needed to improve air quality. Through this partnership, we are working to influence a policy shift that will result in less air pollution from burning wood.  

Wood fuel contributes more fine particulate pollution to our air than either road transport or industrial combustion. In fact, the rise in wood burning has largely offset the fall in particulate pollution from road traffic over the last ten years 

Yet it is an unnecessary and preventable source of these polluting emissions. Evidence shows most people who burn wood in cities are from higher income groups, have other sources of heating, and choose to burn to create a homely, cozy atmosphere, rather than out of necessity. By raising awareness of the link between wood burning and air pollution, we hope to reduce the impact wood burning has on air quality and improve health.

Rachel Pidgeon

Want to find out more about this project?

Contact Portfolio Manager Rachel Pidgeon

Contact Rachel