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Residential heating with wood and coal is an important source of ambient (outdoor) air pollution; it can also cause substantial indoor air pollution through either direct exposure or infiltration from outside. Evidence links emissions from wood and coal heating to serious health effects such as respiratory and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Wood and coal burning also emit carcinogenic compounds.
The results presented in the report indicate that it will be difficult to tackle outdoor air pollution problems in many parts of the world without addressing this source sector. A better understanding of the role of wood biomass heating as a major source of globally harmful outdoor air pollutants (especially fine particles) is needed among national, regional and local administrations, politicians and the public at large.