Selling of house coal and wet wood, the two of the most polluting fuels used in household stoves and open fires to be phased out by 2023 to cut pollution and clean up the air, the government has said.
The single largest sources of PM2.5 are wood-burning stoves and coal fires. These contribute three times of the pollution as road transport, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Phasing out house coal and wet wood sale has been confirmed under plans to tackle PM2.5. These tiny particle pollutants can penetrate deep into the lungs and the blood, causing severe health problems.
As per government sales of wet wood and house coal, two of the most coal will be phased out within the span of 2021 to 2023 that the householders and suppliers get time to shift to cleaner alternatives like dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.
Dry wood and manufactured solid fuels not only produce less smoke and pollution but are also less costly and more efficient to burn, officials said.
The environment secretary, George Eustice, said: “Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country, but the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK.
“By moving towards the use of cleaner fuels such as dry wood we can all play a part in improving the health of millions of people. This is the latest step in delivering on the challenge we set ourselves in our world-leading clean air strategy.
“We will continue to be ambitious and innovative in tackling air pollution from all sources as we work towards our goal to halve the harm to human health from air pollution by 2030.”
Within February 2021, sales of all bagged traditional house coal will be phased out, and the sale of loose coal by approved coal merchants directly to customers will end by February 2023.
Sales of wet wood under two cubic meters in units will be restricted from February 2021 to exhaust existing stocks.
Also, from the same date, larger volumes of wet wood need to be sold with advice on the method of drying it before burning, the government said.
However, manufacturers of solid fuels need to show that these have very low sulfur content and emit a small amount of smoke.
Prof Stephen Holgate, a special adviser on air quality at the Royal College of Physicians, said: “We know that air pollution causes significant health issues across the life course. It is key that the government does everything it can to improve the air we all breathe. Today’s announcement on domestic burning is a welcome step forward, and will in time, play a role in reducing the pollution associated with PM2.5.
“Inhaling combustion particles from any source is harmful, but more so than ever when it’s directly within your home. Burning coal for heat and power has to stop and strong guidance is needed to insist that if wood is burnt in approved stoves, it is non-contaminated and dry.”
John Maingay of the British Heart Foundation said: “Wood and coal burning accounts for 40% of harmful levels of background PM2.5 in the UK, and our research has shown that toxic PM2.5 can enter the bloodstream and damage our heart and circulatory system.
“Phasing out sales of coal and wet wood is a vital first step towards protecting the nation’s health from toxic air … however, we must not stop there. Air pollution is a major public health challenge, and it requires an urgent and bold response.”