Particulate matter alert: “Please don’t do it!”

The Flemish Environment Company, the VMM, is calling on people not to heat using wood if it can be avoided.  At the minute there is too much particulate matter in the Flemish air.

“Don’t use wood as fuel in stoves or open fires today or tomorrow” is the VMM advice.  VMM’s Katrien Smet says using wood in this way launches a lot of extra particulate matter into the air at locations where this happens.

“Please use a different type of heating if available.  We’re not banning it.  If it’s your only source of heating, then it’s permitted.  If you use wood as a second source of heating or to create a cosy atmosphere, please don’t do it!”

“Particulate matter is bad for the environment and for your health.  Young children and older people can experience problems”.

PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres) has reached concentrations of over 35 micrograms per cubic metre.  When this threshold is exceeded, the population needs to alerted to the problem.  The VMM has recorded high particulate matter levels across Flanders, but especially in Antwerp Province.

“It’s due to the weather” says Frans Fierens of the Interregional Environment Unit IRCEL. “There’s too little wind and temperature inversion”.

That means warmer air is above the colder air nearer ground level! Pollution can’t escape and concentrations of polluting substances skyrocket.

VMM’s Katrien Smet says the situation is urgent at the minute, but the VMMs advice should be taken to heart all year round.

“By burning wood, you launch dioxins, particulate matter and carcinogenics into the air.  It’s not an environmentally friendly way of heating”.

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