Climate and Health Impacts of Residential Wood Combustion in Finland

Mikko Savolahti

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Elevated fine particle concentrations in ambient air cause significant negative impacts on public health. During the last decades, emissions of fine particle matter have been effectively reduced through legislation, especially in industry and transport. Emissions from residential wood combustion, however, have not been regulated, and wood burning has become the most significant source of particulate emissions in many countries. Wood burning has been viewed as carbon neutral, and thus climate policies have often aimed to increase use of wood, even if the negative health impacts of wood smoke have been acknowledged. In recent years, however, the climate impacts of biomass burning have also received increasing scientific interest, regarding both black carbon emissions and changes in global carbon stocks. It has been shown that wood burning has climate effects that can be of the same magnitude or larger than those of using fossil fuels. This thesis examines the climate and health impacts of residential wood combustion in Finland. In this thesis, an approach for thorough estimation of emissions from Finnish residential wood combustion is presented. In addition, the work examines the effectiveness and costs of selected emission reduction measures. The thesis also presents a method for calculating the regional climate impact of emissions that affect the Earth's radiative forcing. The method is then applied to quantify the climate impact caused by residential wood combustion. Finally, the thesis presents an estimate of the negative health impacts caused by fine particle emissions from residential wood combustion in Finland, based on a chain of modeling steps. The thesis demonstrates that wood combustion is the largest source of emissions of fine particles and black carbon in Finland. In relation to Finland's greenhouse gas emissions and measured particulate concentrations in ambient air, emissions from wood combustion are found to be significant in terms of both climate and health effects. On the other hand, the thesis also shows that it is possible to reduce emissions and their adverse effects by informative and administrative measures.
Translated title of the contributionPuun pienpolton ilmasto- ja terveysvaikutukset Suomessa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Järvinen, Mika, Supervising Professor
  • Karvosenoja, Niko, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8965-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8966-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • wood combustion
  • emissions
  • particles
  • climate change
  • air pollution


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