University of Manchester and Greater Manchester local authorities launch pioneering study into domestic burning habits in bid to tackle air pollution

15th January 2024, 7:42 am

The University of Manchester has launched a study in partnership with Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities to better understand the use of log burners and solid fuel fires and their impact on air pollution in the region.

The initiative, funded by a Defra Air Quality Grant, seeks to understand the motivations behind burning solid fuels in homes and gardens, improve community knowledge and influence behaviour and improve public health in Greater Manchester.

Smoke from log burners, domestic fires and garden bonfires contain tiny particles called particulate matter (PM2.5) that can damage people’s health, increasing the risk of respiratory conditions, such as asthma, and lead to more serious health conditions.

The study – led by The University of Manchester on behalf of Greater Manchester’s 10 councils – aims to understand the link between household burning practices (indoor and outdoor) and local air quality.

Over the next two years, the research partnership will help inform a public health campaign across the city region to raise awareness around the negative impacts of domestic burning, with the aim to reduce particulate matter emissions through reduced and cleaner burning habits.

The survey will run until February 2024 and invites both people who burn at home and those that do not to take part.

Those that complete the survey can enter a draw to win one of five food vouchers. The link to the survey can be found here. []

Lead researcher Dr Emily Matthews, Atmospheric Scientist at The University of Manchester, said: “You may be surprised to know that even the most efficient stoves still pollute the air inside and outside the home. This study will help us gain valuable insight into how people burn fuels at homes in Greater Manchester.

“We will use our findings to help raise awareness about the impact burning solid fuel can have on everyone’s health, through targeted campaigns and community engagement. Ultimately, we hope to help reduce emissions from domestic burning and improve our environment for everyone.”

In conjunction with the study, Greater Manchester has launched an Information Hub on the Green City website to educate residents about the health impacts and regulations surrounding domestic burning. Over 40 air quality monitors will be strategically placed across the region to better understand the link between domestic burning and PM2.5 air pollution.

The study is one of many research projects at the University which is looking into the impact of air pollution on our health.

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Leader of Bury Council and Greater Manchester’s Portfolio Lead for Clean Air, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with The University of Manchester on this initiative. By combining the expertise at the University with our understanding of local needs, we are confident that we can work towards a healthier and more sustainable future for our community.

“We know in recent years with the cost-of-living crisis that some people have looked for alternative ways to stay warm, especially when the colder weather arrives.

“But if people do choose to burn this winter, we want them to be aware of the impact it could be having on their health and that of others, the rules in place and what they can do to reduce their impact.”

Residents who do need to burn this winter are being encouraged to follow these guidelines:

• Find out if you are in a Smoke Control Area – if so your stove needs to be Defra-exempt and you must only use approved fuel.
• Only burn clean seasoned wood with a moisture content of less than 20% or dried for a minimum of two years, or use ‘Ready to Burn’ approved manufactured solid fuels.
• Do not burn rubbish or general waste.
• Get your chimney swept each year and your stove checked.
• Do not let your fire smoulder overnight.

Take part in the survey here. []

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