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Health impacts of residential heating with wood and coal

HEAL welcomes a new WHO Europe report describing the health effects of and policy options for dealing with residential heating with wood and coal in Europe and the US.

Residential heating with wood and coal is an important source of ambient (outdoor) air pollution. It can also cause substantial indoor air pollution through either direct exposure or infiltration from outside.

Evidence links emissions from wood and coal heating to serious health effects such as illness and death from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Burning wood and coal also emits carcinogenic compounds.

The results presented in the World Health Organization’s report indicate that it will be difficult to tackle problems with outdoor air pollution in many parts of the world without addressing this source sector. National, regional and local administrations, politicians and the public need a better understanding of the role of wood biomass heating as a major source of harmful outdoor air pollutants (especially fine particles). This report is intended to help increase such an understanding.

Full report available here

Last year HEAL in Poland, together with eight Polish health and medical institutions published a brochure in Polish to raise awareness of the health impacts of burning coal in the home.

The brochure brings together important, but often ignored numbers on the domestic coal combustion issue in Poland, as well as the latest science on the health effects of coal burning and case studies. Public interventions that have contributed to cleaner air are also presented.

Download the brochure in Polish here

More information available here

Originally posted on 9 April 2015

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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