Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

143 Do wood fireplaces really pollute as much as the incinerator?

The City of Quebec maintains that 143 decorative or ambient fireplaces emit as many fine particles as the incinerator each year.

  • Louis Gagné (View profile)Louis Gagné

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text.

The City of Quebec claims that 143 fireplaces emit as many fine particles (PM2.5) as the incinerator. However, a conversion from imperial units to metric units distorts the calculation used to arrive at this result.

The day after the announcement of the regulation aimed at banning decorative and ambient fireplaces in the territory of the City of Quebec, last fall, Mayor Bruno Marchand affirmed that 143 of these devices emit as many particles in one year fine than the incinerator, or approximately 11 tons.

One hundred and forty-three ambient fireplaces […] which operate twice a week […] during the five months of winter [at the rate of] twice a week […] for four hours each time, [it’s] the equivalent of the incinerator in emitting fine particles, declared the mayor.

In an interview on BLVD on Wednesday, the mayor mentioned 14 homes, but this was obviously a slip of the tongue.

LoadingYulia, widow of Alexeï Navalny, is determined to continue the fight

ELSELL ON NEWS: Yulia, widow of Alexei Navalny, is determined to continue the fight

The City of Quebec sent Radio-Canada its calculation method. To arrive at the number of 143 fireplaces, it is based on the hypothesis that ambient fireplaces can emit six times more fine particles than non-certified wood stoves.

Open in full screen mode

Bruno Marchand said last fall that 143 indoor fireplaces emit as many fine particles in one year as the Quebec incinerator. (Archive photo)

Note that this hypothesis comes from a statement contained in the report My environment, my health. We'll come back to that.

The City estimates that non-certified devices emit between 60 and 100 grams of fine particles per hour (g/h), which gives an average emission rate of 80 g/h. In order to establish the emission rate of an ambient fireplace, it multiplies the average emission rate of 80 g/h by six, which gives 480 g/h.

Based on the frequency of use reported by the mayor (4 hours x 2 days/week x 4 weeks/month x 5 months), the City estimates that 143 homes produce 11 tons of fine particles per year. This is approximately the same quantity of fine particles declared by the Quebec incinerator for the year 2021 (10.82 t).

Source : City of Quebec

From a mathematical point of view, the demonstration made by the City is consistent, that is to say that by reproducing the equation, we actually arrive at the number of 143 households.

The problem is that its calculation is largely based on the information found in the report My environment, my health stating that indoor fireplaces […] can emit six times more fine particles than a non-certified stove.

To support this assertion, the authors of the study refer to this graph published in a document from the ;United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2014.

Open in full screen mode

The authors of the report “My environment, my health” based themselves on this EPA graph to assert that “room fireplaces […] can emit six times more fine particles than a non-certified stove “.

In the graph, we see that the value 28 assigned to a household (fireplace) is 6 times higher than that of 4.6 allocated to an uncertified wood stove (uncertified woodstove). Note that we are not talking about grams per hour (g/h), but rather pounds of particles per million BTUs (lbs/MMBtus), a unit of measurement of energy belonging to the imperial system and not including any notion of time.

However, as environmental consultant and doctor of engineering Sébastien Raymond points out, we cannot compare g/h with lbs/MMBtus just as easily. According to him, there is clearly a unity problem in the calculation of the City of Quebec.

[The unit] lbs/MMBtus corresponds to a mass/thermal unit. We therefore have no temporal aspect in this type of unit. So obviously you have to multiply this number by the power of a device which could be in BTU/h or something like that. Thus, we introduce the notion of time and by applying the appropriate conversion factor for the masses, we could fall back on g/h, explains Mr. Raymond in an email to Radio-Canada.

This means that the 6 to 1 (28/4.6) ratio of lbs/MMBtus data cannot be used to calculate a home's emission rate in g/h. The rate of 480 g/h of fine particles attributed by the City of Quebec to decorative or ambient fireplaces is therefore incorrect.

The president of the Quebec Association for the Fight against Atmospheric Pollution (AQLPA), André Bélisle, maintains for his part that we cannot compare the tons of fine particles coming from wood heating appliances with those from the incinerator since their composition means that they do not have the same toxicity.

André Bélisle argues that the fine particles rejected by the incinerator are to be classified with those of the industry.

There is no arsenic, no cadmium, no sulfate as in the industrial emissions of particles from Glencore, in Rouyn, for example, or nitrate particles from transport. All poisons causing cancer in the long term, says the president of the AQLPA.

Open in full screen mode

Even if the calculation of the City of Quebec raises questions, André Bélisle mentions that it is right to be concerned about the impacts of wood heating on air quality. (Archive photo)

He stresses, however, that it is justified to be concerned about the carbon-rich soot particles emitted during combustion wood.

These particles are extremely irritating to the respiratory tract and can cause asthma attacks and heart attacks in the very short term in vulnerable people, specifies André Bélisle .

He adds that global warming intensifies the concentration and toxicity [of these pollutants] in the air.

In a press release published Friday, the City of Quebec explains that it compared the emissions from ambient fireplaces with those from the incinerator for educational purposes. It thus wanted to illustrate that solid fuel heating appliances, which include fireplaces, contribute significantly to atmospheric pollution in its territory.

Citing the report My environment, my health, the Municipality recalls that fine particles are the most harmful to health, even at very low concentrations.

Between 2000 and 2015, for the territories of the local community service centers of Limoilou-Vanier and Québec–Basse-Ville, it is estimated that exposure to fine atmospheric particles would have contributed to the development of asthma in approximately 288 children, we can read in its press release.

Open in full screen mode

The City of Quebec would like to point out that solid fuel heating appliances contribute “in a significant way” to air pollution. (File photo)

For deaths from ischemic heart disease, exposure to fine particulate matter is estimated to have contributed to 495 deaths . Across Quebec, according to a Health Canada study, fine particles from wood heating kill 1,400 people per year, she adds.

The City says it considered it relevant to use data from an independent organization such as the EPA to establish its comparison between emissions from indoor fireplaces and those from the incinerator. The data presented in the graph, she continues, offers a comparison of the average emissions of fine particles emitted by different devices to develop the same power under equivalent conditions.

In these conditions, it is therefore entirely appropriate to use this ratio if this equipment, always of the same power, operates in these conditions, for one hour. It is obvious that there are disparities between the different environmental sources in our territory, but this calculation is intended to be a benchmark to establish an order of magnitude and put the quantities of particles emitted into perspective, insists the Municipality.

With the collaboration of Audrey Paris and Félix Morrissette Beaulieu

  • Louis Gagné (View profile)Louis GagnéFollow

By admin

Related Post