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Dioxin Emissions from Domestic Sources

On behalf of DG environment, a study of dioxin emissions from domestic sources will be conducted by BiPRO. For this, an expert workshop took place.

Of the governmental authorities, employees of AT, BE, CY, CZ, DE, DK, FI, FR, GR, IE, IT, NL, PL, SE, SK and GB were present. Furthermore approximately 10 stakeholder were present. The project management of EuP Lot 15 was represented by two employees.

For the EFA/ECA, the signatory participated.

It was reported within 9 presentations about the status and the knowledge of dioxin emissions, mainly about domestic fireplaces.


The most important topics:


The measurement of dioxin is difficult, because there is a so-called “memory effect” with dioxins. Fireplaces and chimneys “memorize” what was burned. The dioxin escapes with delay. Measurements at domestic fireplaces were accomplished in various countries. These vary however strongly. The dioxin emission is then reckoned with emission factors. The emission factors which are used in the several European countries are at present not standardized. Here need for action exists.

Further detailed information is shown in the presentations, the accordant lectures are on the Internet www.bipro.de/dioxin-doestic/ or can be requested with me.

Dioxins are found with coal, but also during wood burn. An increase of dioxin output is feared by the increased use of wood. The use of bark increases the dioxin portion.


The largest problem is however the private “waste incineration”. Here the highest dioxin emissions arise from plastic wastes and with burdened wood. Burning these wastes is forbidden in nearly all European countries, but these prohibitions are very often not kept. From England it was reported that plastic waste, which was placed to the road for disposal, is collected and used for heating by homeowners. Also in Sweden was the inflammable waste in a community supervised. It turned out, that in the winter only 1/10 of the inflammable waste accumulated than in the summer.

It was positively mentioned by several countries that the chimney sweep can be consulted for clearing-up with the operator.

In GB and IE as well as in some Scandinavian countries, clearing-up work is accomplished in the press, in order to clear the population up about correct heating.


In this context it was suggested to provide better information to the operators in terms of increasing replacement of older fireplaces e.g by government aid. New fireplaces have a considerably lesser dioxin output (up to 90%).


A big problem is also the barbecue with charcoal. Here, very large quantities of dioxin are released every year.


After the presentation of the reports, the member states were asked for their opinion to these problems.


The result is not very pleasant for our industry:


  • Energy saving and improvement of efficiency
  • Preferably use of gas (dioxin emissions are reduced by 99%)
  • Use of solar and geothermic power
  • If wood heating, then in large plants “district heating”
  • Due to increasing usage of wood, a dropping of wood quality and involved dioxin output is expected
  • Modern devices (automatic firing) are to be used
  • Chimney sweepers could take over an important educational role
  • Emission factors must be examined and/or adapted
  • The marking of the devices according efficiency and pollutant output (labelling Lot 15) goes into the correct direction
  • Gas must be replaced by wood on a long term basis, and if possible in large heating systems or as BtL. With BtL is also unsuitable wood for heating useable
  • Coordinated research about emission factors in the context of CORINAIR (http://www.umweltdaten.de/publikationen/fpdf-1/2523.pdf)




Although dioxin is very low with the burn of suitable wood in new fireplaces, the problem is taken very seriously by the member states – particular with the faulty operation and/or false use.



Argumentation from our side:


  • Education
  • Good fuel
  • New fireplaces
  • Emphasize the advantage of decentralized heating (independency)

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