THERE is nothing many expats love more than a roaring fire or a fuel efficient log-burning stove.

But beware. While a log fire might be charming it could be bad for your health, two studies have found.

A UK Department of the Environment report says that wood-burning in the home accounts for 38% of PM 2.5 pollution – a form of fine particle pollution that is considered particularly dangerous as it penetrates deep into the lungs and bloodstream.

This figure is triple the same contamination emitted by vehicles, which makes up 12% of the UK’s total.

A second report shows that wood-burning stoves and fires are much more polluting than thought. 

The Dutch study by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) says that fires are responsible for an alarming 23% of fine particulate emissions in the Netherlands.

This is double the previous estimate of 10% and is set to lead to new urgent legislation.

CHARMING: But log burning stoves could be harmful

European guidelines now rule that particulates produced as condensation just outside the chimney should be included in the figures, as well as those in the air. 

This means log fires and wood burning stoves are important contributors to fine particulate pollution, along with traffic, industry and agriculture.

According to another report by the environmental planning bureau PBL, the cheapest way of dealing with particulate pollution would be to ban diesel cars without a particulate filter and older generation wood-burning stoves.

There could however be some comfort and a temporary let off for expats, many of whom live in the campo. The unhealthy effects of wood-burning are far worse in urban areas where emissions can concentrate, leading to health problems.

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