Is biomass harmful to humans?Views: 42
Are you considering using biomass to heat your home? Biomass is a renewable energy source that’s often considered carbon neutral because it takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and releases oxygen back into it. But burning biomass can release harmful pollutants into the air, and some forms of biomass are better than others. Let’s look at what makes up this green-sounding fuel source and how it actually affects our health as well as our environment.
Biomass is organic matter that provides fuel.
Biomass is organic matter that provides fuel. It can be used as a renewable energy source, and is carbon neutral. Biomass can be burned to produce heat and electricity, or it may be converted into other fuels, such as gasoline or diesel oil. Biomass includes the following:
- Woody materials (dead trees, branches)
- Agricultural crops grown specifically for energy purposes (corn stalks)
- Animal waste
Biomass is often considered to be carbon neutral.
Biomass is often considered to be carbon neutral. It’s carbon neutral because it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, and releases that same amount of CO2 when burned for energy. The difference between growing biomass and burning it is that when you burn biomass, you can replace that same amount of carbon dioxide back into the environment by growing new trees or crops.
Some biomass fuels are better than others.
Biomass fuels are not all the same. Some biomass fuels are better than others. Some biomass fuels, such as wood pellets and briquettes made from sawdust, are less harmful to people’s health than other types of biofuel. But there are also some biofuels that may be even more harmful to human health.
Wood pellets are a form of biomass fuel.
Biomass is a renewable energy source, but it’s not the same as firewood. Wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust, which is then turned into fuel for stoves, furnaces and fireplaces. Wood pellets are the most common form of biomass fuel available in North America and Europe. They can be burned in homes to heat your house just like any other fossil fuel would be used. You might be wondering why you would want to use wood instead of something cheaper like coal or natural gas – well let’s talk about that!
Burning wood pellets releases harmful pollutants into the air.
When you burn wood pellets, you release carbon monoxide and other harmful pollutants into the air. Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous gas that can cause neurological problems if breathed in for a long period of time, and nitrogen oxide can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma. Also released are particulates—tiny particles suspended in the air that can affect your lungs, heart, nervous system and more. Particulates have been linked to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer as well as damage to plants and animals.
Biomass fuels emit nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and PM 2.5 particulates.
Biomass fuels — wood, charcoal and dung — emit nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, which are harmful to the lungs. PM 2.5 particulates are very small particles that can enter the lungs and bloodstream, causing inflammation of the lung tissue, asthma attacks and heart disease. The World Health Organization recommends that PM 2.5 concentrations should be less than 10 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3).
Incomplete combustion of biomass fuels can produce carbon monoxide.
When biomass is burned in an inefficient way, incomplete combustion can lead to the production of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and confusion. In extreme cases of exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide—like those found in house fires or even car accidents—carbon monoxide poisoning may cause death due to respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.
Trees can take hundreds of years to grow back once they’re logged and burned for fuel.
How long does it take for a tree to grow back?
Trees are a renewable resource, but they take years to grow. For example, an oak tree can live up to 400 years before it reaches maturity and is ready to be harvested. But if someone cuts down your favorite oak tree
for fuel or money, your beloved tree will never have a chance to reach its full potential—you’ve lost it forever!
Biomass can be a good source of renewable energy, but it does release harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, making it important to find clean ways to burn it for heat.
Biomass fuels emit nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and PM 2.5 particulates, harmful pollutants that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Incomplete combustion of biomass fuels can produce carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that has no odor or taste.
Biomass is a great source of renewable energy, but it does release harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. The good news is that there are ways to burn biomass without releasing these pollutants into the air. By using clean-burning technologies like pellet stoves or other types of biofuels, we can keep our homes warm while also saving our environment.