Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mike Butler: Woodburner police for Auckland?

The Environment Ministry has fixed its death stare on Auckland and a ban on domestic open fireplaces and old wood burners affecting 85,000 homes looms.

A report in the New Zealand Herald yesterday, or should I say a press release from the Auckland Council reproduced in the Herald, breathlessly asserts that 75 per cent of Auckland's winter air pollution is due to fine particle emissions (PM10) from open fires and non- compliant wood burners.

Noting that motor vehicles account for 18 per cent of pollution, and industry 7 per cent, “the burning of coal and wood during winter raised the level of PM10 inhaled and lodged in lungs, and that 110 adults died prematurely every year due to emissions from indoor fires.

Hang on, did it say “110 adults died prematurely every year due to emissions from indoor fires”?

I checked this out last year by sending in a request to the Minister of Health under the Official Information Act seeking all advice received on PM10 from fires and woodburners along with full details of the numbers of respiratory illness deaths resulting from PM10.

The reply was that the Health Ministry cannot identify whether a death was caused by exposure to PM10. There is no evidence of any death whatsoever resulting from PM10 in New Zealand at any time

This means that the Environment Ministry and the Auckland Council are making stuff up to scare or guilt people into upgrading their woodburners. Reporters at the Herald obviously no longer evaluate the truth or falsity of, or even try to understand, data dumped on them by local or central government, and the editor doesn’t know what’s going on.

What is PM10? The Herald says it “is term used to describe particles that are 10 micrometres or less in diameter and harmful to human health”. What does that mean? Bear in mind a micrometer is one millionth of a metre, so a PM10 particle is 10 one-millionths of a metre across.

If an arbitrary level of 50 one-millionths of a metre per cubic metre is breached then 110 adults will die this year.

Yes, it’s phoney baloney. It’s just saying there’s an invisible air bogeyman that materialises and kills people whenever naughty homeowners light up open fires or old woodburners.

I can write with total authority on this subject because I live in Hastings and we have been dragged through this nonsense for years – even threatened with woodburner police who will fly around in a spotter plane on smoky nights using a thermal imaging camera to spot naughty residents using old woodburners.

The sight of an open fire in a movie makes us nostalgic for happier days in a simpler past.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council offered loans and grants to encourage woodburner upgrades, and these extended to insulation. For instance, a self-funded installation as detailed below attracted a refund of $608.

The cost of inserting a woodburner in an open fire: Woodburner (Woodsman insert and flue kit) $1999 (from Mitre 10 on special), permit $325, installation $734, chimney flashing $155, metal hearth extension $225, bend kit $110, mantle deflector $65, remove open fire bricks $250. Total: $3863.

Healthy and safety requirements make wetbacks no longer viable because a tempering valve must be installed at additional cost to keep the hotwater temperature below 60C. The tempering valve requires continual flow of cold water to limit hotwater temperature and this takes a substantial portion of the fire’s energy to keep the tempering valve tempering.

Oh yes, one installation was delayed when the building inspector didn't like the appearance of a piece of exposed re-inforcing steel in a chimney once the fire bricks were removed so required, yes, an engineer's report. I was billed for an additional inspection.

Central government is in fact discouraging the use of woodburners, not because 110 people are dying young each year as the witless propaganda would have you believe, but because the government makes mega millions by generating and selling electricity.

No government is in the firewood business.

Plan to ban open fireplaces affects thousands of homes,


paul scott said...
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ha ha Mike , I take in 15 metres of wood each year to my home in Christchurch , I say to my clients while I am away. Here is the dry pine start fire here, then put on Oregon, look its that pile over there, then good bluegum.
The tenants they thank me very much and their wives say we love you so much keep me warm.

Anonymous said...
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It's one of the biggest con jobs ever committed in this country.
The same argument has been trotted out around the country and the stupid councillors all go along like sheeple.No independent thought.I have challenged too on the number of deaths etc because there is no proven linkage.
And the government go along as well.Huge unnecessary expenditure and disruption to life.

paul scott said...
Reply To This Comment

Just a thing about respiratory disease. I am presently in Thailand and we live in these places with aged air cooler conditioners. I find I have a level of chronic broncho- tracheitis from these things. If you can open the windows you are better off. This PM10 thing became mantra and an obligatory truth, in New Zealand . We have an absurd situation in Christchurch where wealthy new home owners can not have fires but I can. The wood merchants sell very wet wood. Its tricky you need to dry the wood for a long time. In another strange twist, the most expensive wood burners can be dampened down, that is smoldering, and smoking. This is the big no no for home fires, smoke is forbidden.
We are lucky we have a warm healthy home, the dry air is really something , the neighbours come, they say no we don't want to talk to you, we just want to sit beside your fire for a while.

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