Energy prices are soaring, but air quality in Flanders is plummeting with officials asking residents not to supplement their home heating with cosy fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
The accumulation of fine dust particles in the air over Flanders creates considerable air pollution, the Flemish Environmental Agency announced on Wednesday.
Current cold weather combined with little wind means that this pollution does not dissipate. Instead, fine particulate concentrations continue to rise, in part caused by fine dust from burning wood.
“Right now, there is a lot of fine dust in the air. Because wood combustion releases extra particles into the air, we call on the population not to burn wood as additional heating or to make it cosy,” said a statement from the agency.
However, Belgians have been facing soaring energy bills in recent months – for gas and electricity in particular, which could see some choosing to heat their homes by other means. As a result, government officials are trying to create a relief package to help the neediest energy users pay their gas and electricity bills.
Flemish officials expect the particulate matter concentrations to remain high for at least another 24 hours.