Re: Wood smoke - the silent killer

Tuesday, April 11 2017

In reference to the April 4 letter by Bram Vandenberg, I agree on a number of key points regarding the real hazard of wood smoke.

However, there are a number of factors that are worth considering before considering alternate heating sources.

Wood stoves provide the most comfortable radiant heat there is. The idea being to heat all surfaces within the home, thereby producing radiant heat all around.

Radiant heat has proven to be the best for the body and due to its long-lasting effect, will allow the user(s) to feel comfortable and energized due to our natural, internally-regulated, thermostat. The home will also stay warm longer since all surfaces are warm, thereby taking longer to cool down, reducing the amount of wood required to keep a constant temperature.

To obtain the equivalent radiant heat through alternate heat sources such as boiler-fired (propane) hot water heating or geothermal would more than likely be cost prohibitive for most on this island.

Heat pumps also have their issues in the form of noise pollution on neighbours. Not too much of a problem if you’re on five acres + but not everyone has that luxury.

Heat pumps also don’t produce the desired type of heating which may either be electric (baseboard) or forced air, thereby having to consider air quality of these types of systems which also have proven to have negative health effects when homes are deemed “leaky” and require upgrades to increase efficiency.

Won’t discuss the issue of alternate heat sources and their requirements in an event of power failure. Not everyone can afford standby generators. Since Gabriola hardly has power outages (not!), this too needs to be factored accordingly.

If staying with wood stoves, the key is to make sure your home is as efficient as possible. I fully understand it is not easy for most, given potential expense involved to achieve this. However, one has to outweigh the expense against their own health and determine what is a priority. If upgrading windows, doors and insulation is not a viable option, consideration should be given to possibly replacing an existing wood stove with a high-efficiency wood stove ( (greater than 80 per cent). 

High-efficiency wood stoves burn cleaner with virtually near zero particulates coming out of your chimney, thereby keeping the air quality safe for yourself and others around you.

Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer to this issue but considering banning wood stoves is certainly not the desired outcome.

~ Marc Herrmann