Several articles have pointed out that using biomass-heating stoves can result in health problems in densely populated areas. We are working with friends at the EPA to think about how we might define PM2.5 emission rates for residential biomass heating stoves that would protect health in densely populated cities.
When the population density goes up (more people are generating pollution), the emission rate has to go down (the stoves have to be cleaner).
What emission rate for PM2.5 would protect personal health if 1/3 of the folks in New York City replaced the natural gas used for residential heating with biomass?
Very roughly, using an EPA outdoor air pollution model, a biomass-generated PM2.5 emission rate of around 0.3g/h looks like it might work in NYC. That’s the emission rate of a good pellet stove.
To accurately make predictions, a model of the air circulation in a city can be generated. Great for planning. For a description of the EPA model, see Chapter 5 “Protecting Health” in Clean Burning Biomass Cookstoves, 2021.