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Indoor Air. 2004;14 Suppl 8:84-91.

Room chamber assessment of the pollutant emission properties of (nominally) low-emission unflued gas heaters.

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CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology, Highett, Victoria, Australia.


Pollutant emissions from unflued gas heaters were assessed in CSIRO's Room Dynamic Environmental Chamber. This paper describes the chamber assessment procedure and presents findings for major commercial heaters that are nominally "low-emission". The chamber was operated at controlled conditions of temperature, humidity, ventilation and air mixing, representative of those encountered in typical indoor environments. A fixed rate of heat removal from the chamber air ensured that the heaters operated at constant heating rates, typically approximately 6 MJ/h which simulated operation of a heater after warm-up in an insulated dwelling in south-east Australia. The pollutants assessed were nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, VOCs and respirable suspended particulates. One type of heater was lower emitting for nitrogen dioxide, but emitted greater amounts of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde (the latter becoming significant to indoor air quality). When operated with low line pressure or slight misalignment of the gas burner, this heater became a hazardous source of these pollutants. Emissions from the heaters changed little after continuous operation for up to 2 months.


Unflued gas heaters have been popular as primary heating sources in Australian homes for many years due to their ease of installation and energy efficiency, with approximately 600,000 now installed in housing and schools. However, with concerns over potential health impacts to occupants, manufacturers have reduced the nitrogen dioxide emissions from unflued gas heaters in Australia over recent years. They have done so with a target level for nitrogen dioxide in indoor air of 300 p.p.b. This is somewhat higher than the ambient air (and WHO) guideline of 110 p.p.b. Several studies of child respiratory health show an impact of unflued gas combustion products. A full characterization of the combustion products is needed under conditions that simulate heater operation in practice-this study was undertaken to provide such characterization. Key findings are that the focus needs to be on total gas emissions (not just nitrogen dioxide), and that heater installation can be very sensitive to small faults which lead to very high levels of toxic pollutants. These findings have influenced current government proposals for emission limits for these heaters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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