Wood Smoke Stories

Smoke in a Welsh village

I am so glad to have found your work. As a person acutely compromised by wood burning, I have added my name to your mailing list. I have an immune complex issue and am unable to take medication because of reactions to almost everything. I have an NHS consultant, who guides me through a difficult life.

We live in a Welsh valley affected by temperature inversions. Regularly, a cloud blanket sits over the village. We have lived here for more than thirty years, on the side of a small mountain. When we came here, the air was fresh. Now, more and more of our neighbours have taken to wood burning. Because of the gradients, we are at chimney level of wood burning homes below us. The air we breathe is thick with fumes; it smells inside our home. It means we cannot open windows and I cannot be out in the garden. It is a return to the old days of dirty air. What has happened to the Clean Air Act. It is hard to see how any government will have the courage to ban or even regulate woodburners.

I am housebound, breathless but unable to take antihistamines. My ears and sinuses are constantly full. I have lost hearing because of this pollution. We have bought expensive air-purifiers, which help, but not enough to let me breathe easily.  I can see no way out of this for me—even if we try to relocate, there are no clean air zones in Wales. It bewilders me that we are going so far backwards in air quality as we head for global warming.

Clouds settle over a valley during an inversion.
The photo illustrates the frequent inversion conditions in this Welsh valley.
The photo illustrates the frequent inversion conditions in this Welsh valley.
The photo illustrates the frequent inversion conditions in this Welsh valley.
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