Friday, August 23

Smoke Control Explained

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COAL POLLUTION PROBLEMS

Estimates suggest coal pollution cuts life spans by 5.5 years in China. Indoor air pollution, some of it caused by the use of coal, causes more than 1.6 million deaths a year around the world. Pollution from coal plants kills 1,600 people a year in the UK, and costs the UK between £1.5 and £3 billion per year. The worst air pollution event in the history of the UK was caused by coal use, an unusual anticyclone, and a windless day. London’s Great Smog of 1952 is credited with the premature death of 4,000 to 12,000 people, and more than 100,000 illnesses in the UK. Soon after another disastrous day in 1962, Government passed legislation that led to the smokeless regulations of today.

SMOKE CONTROL AREAS

Smoke control areas or smoke free zones have been introduced in many of our large towns and cities in the UK. Under the clean air acts (1956 & 1968) local authorities have the power to make part of or all of a district smoke free. These Acts were introduced so that local authorities had the power to control emissions that industrial and domestic premises emitted into the air and to declare these areas “smoke control areas”. It is an offence for stoves, boilers or furnaces, domestic or commercial, to emit smoke in these areas. Local authorities can impose fines up to £1000 for burning non-approved fuels or burning fuels in a non-approved appliance.

DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) approves fuel, exempt appliances and stoves for use in smoke control areas in England *(see below). Fuel authorized for use in smoke free zones is know as smokeless coal. You can then use this fuel on any suitable stove in a smoke free zone. Approved appliances and stoves are suitable for use in smoke free zones as long as they burn either wood or smokeless fuels. Wood is not an authorised fuel for use in a Smoke Control Area, but may be burned in a tested DEFRA approved appliance.

*In Wales and Scotland the power to approve fuel and exempt appliances and stoves rests with the Ministers. In Northern Ireland the Clear Air Order 1981 applies, and the power to approve fuel and exempt appliances and stoves rest with the Secretary of State.

DEFRA APPROVED STOVES AND APPLIANCES

An appliance or stove (oven, boiler, wood burning stove or furnace) which is approved has passed tests to show that it only emits a certain amount of smoke at certain temperatures using statutory instruments. These test show that the appliance or stove is capable of burning wood or an authorized fuel without emitting smoke.

WHAT IS SMOKELESS FUEL?

Smokeless coal was created to emit less than 5 grams of smoke per hour when burning. Smokeless fuel emits 80 percent less smoke and 25% less carbon than ordinary house coal, on average. Smokeless fuels can be used in both open fires and closed home appliances such as multi-fuel stoves, room heaters, and cookers.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I LIVE IN A SMOKELESS AREA?

Today the world has to balance of the need for coal with its effects on human beings, and stricter regulations are now in force. Manufacturers have introduced new products to accommodate the new laws, and a majority of people have adjusted to the change. Some, seeing the human threat have embraced the controls, others fearing costs to industry and commerce and also fearing further government controls on personal liberty, have been less accommodating. But the regulations remain and are being strengthened today for the common good of all the residents of all the Smokeless Areas of the UK. Contact your local authority Environmental Health or Protection department to find out if you live in a smokeless area.

Understanding Smoke control is an essential part of owning a stove. Many people have questions about the regulations before committing to installation. If you have questions about stove regulations please ask us here.

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