The cosy coal fire could become a thing of the past under new government plans to ban the sale of polluting fuel.
Ministers today confirmed plans to phase out the sale of coal and 'wet' wood for domestic burning in England and encourage the use of cleaner fuels in the home.
Wood burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of the pollutant ‘PM2.5’ – around 40% of the total emissions.
That’s twice as much as industrial combustion and three times as much as road transport.
So sales of "house coal" and wet wood – which means logs that are freshly-chopped and not dried and treated, for example in a kiln – will be phased out between 2021 and 2023.
Householders and suppliers will be told to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.
Particles from PM2.5 penetrate the body deeply, including in the lungs and blood.
Multiple studies have show long term exposure to PM2.5 can cause lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes and asthma.
And it has been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most serious air pollutant for human health.
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.”
Professor Stephen Holgate, Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on air quality welcomed the announcement.
He said: “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, Director of Policy and Influencing at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Phasing out sales of coal and wet wood is a vital first step towards protecting the nation’s health from toxic air.
"This is a welcome move from a Government showing its ambition and commitment to tackling air pollution.
“However, we must not stop there. Air pollution is a major public health challenge, and it requires an urgent and bold response.”
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