Alexandra Monteiro, DAO / CESAM Researcher, writes about particulate air pollution
Published in 25/1/2017
Can a sunny day be a health risk?
Alexandra Monteiro, Researcher at DAO and CESAM, explains how the combination of the current atmospheric conditions and the common habit of lighting the fireplace at home to resist the cold weather can generate risk situations for all of us.
These cold winter days (full of sun and little wind) are usually associated with weather conditions characterized by high atmospheric stability that favor the low dispersion of pollutants and their accumulation. If we add to these conditions large emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere we will have the ideal recipe for a serious problem of poor air quality with risks to human health.
Several air quality stations throughout Portugal have measured particle concentrations well above the limit values set by legislation for the protection of human health over the last few days. The peaks of particles recorded during the night-time suggest us that the cause and the emitting source comes from residential combustion, namely from our fireplaces. This high value is explained by the unrealistic and uncertified conditions in which this burning occurs (incomplete combustion, impurities fuel, etc.).
There are several steps we can take without compromising our comfort. The first can start with the choice of biomass used in the firing, with options in the market, such as pellets, that allow the reduction of the emission of particles. The replacement or adaptation of the conventional fireplace by a certified installation is another. In addition, the choice of the most suitable days to light the fireplace will always be our decision (and the weather forecast).
More details: http://uaonline.ua.pt/pub/detail.asp?c=49186&lg=pt