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Neighbourhood smoke: "they may as well come over and p*ss on my leg"



ABC News report: Health experts call for reform as data suggests woodfired heaters are responsible for more premature deaths than thought "The Asthma Foundation has called on the NSW government to introduce buyback schemes, which have been effective in Tasmania and the ACT.

They also want the heaters removed any time a house is sold, as well as banned from new builds"

Across the Eurobodalla the annual pall of woodsmoke during winter brings with it an increase in the number of cases that present with breathing difficulties. Smoke has been identified to have significant impacts on young people and the elderly, as well as people with pre-existing respiratory issues such as asthma.


Wood Smoke from solid fuel heaters is one of the most common causes of air pollution in Eurobodalla Shire. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage estimate that in some towns and cities in NSW, around 30% of total annual emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are emitted from wood-burning heaters. On a winter weekend, wood-burning heaters may be responsible for more than 60% of fine particle pollution. If you can see or smell smoke from your wood heater then you are causing a problem for yourself, your family and your neighbours. Solid fuel burning in the home provides an effective economical and attractive method of heating however, the installation of solid fuel heating devices has the potential to create significant problems with respect to fire hazard, environmental pollution and nuisance to adjoining properties. NSW Environment minister Matt Kean told the ABC in June that the government recognised the potential adverse health impacts but they were a cost-efficient form of heating for many, particularly in rural areas.

He said buybacks in the past had been popular.

"The government is committed to improving its evidence on wood smoke impacts on local communities," he said at the time.

"It will continue to work closely with local councils and stakeholders to manage these impacts and ensure that any future wood smoke reduction programs are cost-effective and meet the needs of local communities." Pollutants in wood smoke include: noxious gases such as carbon monoxide, organic compounds, including air toxins fine particles formed when unburnt gases cool as they travel up the chimney; in the air, these can be seen as white smoke. Health NSW advise more air pollution is produced during fire start up and when a fire is poorly managed - for example, when airflow to the heater is reduced allowing wood to smoulder. Improperly installed heaters or clogged chimneys may increase the amount of air pollution inside the home and increase the likelihood of health effects. "Never leave a fire smouldering overnight and check your chimney - if there is visible smoke from it increase the airflow to the fire" Health NSW


VIDEO: Wood smoke tips NSW Environment Protection Authority

The EPA says that Wood smoke pollution from neighbouring chimneys is the source of many complaints to local councils throughout NSW. Eurobodalla Council advises on their website that "Should you have a problem with air emissions, always attempt to discuss the issue directly with the person responsible for the nuisance in order to try and achieve a solution. Agree on a definite timeframe to do something about the problem. If the situation has not changed after that time, it may then be necessary to contact the appropriate authority" In this case, as advised by the EPA, the appropriate authority is Eurobodalla Council on 4474 1000 An exasperated Beagle reader (Sunshine Bay) told of her experience with neighbours wood smoke saying "They burn poor cuts of wood that give off so much smoke you can barely breath out doors some days. I rang Council and they said to let the neighbours know their smoke was an issue. They even suggested inviting them outside to see for themselves what they were doing to the rest of the neighbourhood." "I told Council the people were renters, didn't give a stuff and Council needed to come and see for themselves and "have a word" with them." They told me "Here is the number for the EPA". "My neighbours sit outside in summer and their cigarette smoke comes in my kitchen window. In winter their wood smoke stops me from opening up the house during the day. They may as well come over and p*ss on my leg."

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