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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Lethal but legal: Air pollution from domestic burning

The levels of air pollution to which domestic burning in the home is a prime contributor are lethal but legal.

Up until very recently, public policy has focused on the lethal and illegal concentrations of air pollution predominantly arising from road transport in the form of NO2 pollution. Yet PMx, the main emitter of which is domestic burning of solid fuels including wood, are measured in concentrations that are legal but actually more lethal than NO2.

The government’s recent clean air strategy highlights the wider contributors to air pollution in the UK beyond transport and provides policy measures to tackle it. The government has therefore made some welcome progress particularly in regard to emissions from domestic combustion. But, with approximately 1.9 million households still using solid fuels including wood in their homes, this report argues that the health cost is too high for policy to not go further and faster.