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New campaign uncovers shocking downside of a common home heating practice: 'The uncomfortable truth'

"Local authorities are uniquely placed to take action on this growing issue."

"Local authorities are uniquely placed to take action on this growing issue."

Photo Credit: iStock

This winter, the Hertfordshire County Council funded a campaign to let residents know of the dangers of a traditional practice: burning wood for heat, the BBC reported.

The campaign, the Global Action Plan's Clean Air Night, consisted of a series of online videos encouraging residents to stop using wood burners to save money and keep the air clean. The group said wood burning creates "more harmful CO2 emissions compared [with] other forms of heating," the BBC reported.

Wood fireplaces and stoves may have a beloved place in our culture, but they also play an unfortunate role in pollution. In the United Kingdom, the BBC reported that they're responsible for 27% of PM2.5 pollution (meaning fine particle pollution with pieces less than 2.5 microns across).

That's a problem because PM2.5 pollution is strongly linked to cancer and premature death. Too much smoke — even from a simple wood fire — is as bad as smoking cigarettes.

Tessa Bartholomew-Good, head of campaigns for clean air at Global Action Plan, told the BBC: "The uncomfortable truth is lighting fires in our homes is the largest source of small particle air pollution in the UK, causing serious harm to our lung, heart and brain health. On top of this, burning wood produces more carbon dioxide than coal or gas."

This campaign and other education efforts, however, can help residents switch to more affordable and eco-friendly heating options, such as heat pumps.

"Local authorities are uniquely placed to take action on this growing issue and protect the health of our residents," Matthew Clark, program manager for air quality at the county council, told the BBC. "That's why Hertfordshire County Council is proud to be supporting the first-ever Clean Air Night campaign, and we encourage other councils and organizations to join us in starting a national conversation on the harms of wood burning."

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