Don't burn Railway Sleepers says Firewood Association

29 August 2013

Don't burn railway sleepers, says the Firewood Association.

Some people with woodburners in their houses use railway sleepers to provide efficient & recycled heating.
But the Firewood Association have warned about the health risks of using railway sleepers as fuel, and has banned the sale of old railway sleepers for burning by its members for the following reasons:
1. Used railway sleepers can contain asbestos. Fibres from older train's asbestos brake linings can become trapped in cracks in the railway sleepers. As long as they are not disturbed they are safe, but they can be released when the railway sleepers are burnt. These fibres will collect and concentrate in the ash in the bottom of a woodburner and can be deadly.
2. Many used railway sleepers are contaminated to some extent with either herbicides, creosote, grease & oil. When used railway sleepers are burnt, these substances are vaporised, releasing potentially harmful fumes. These fumes can also be absorbed if there is any food cooked with the wood, for example in pizza ovens or barbecues. If these fumes escape from the woodburner into the room they can cause respiratory health problems.
3. Small stones from the ballast on the track become stuck in used railway sleepers. When heated in a fire these small stones can explode, either cracking the glass of a woodburner or shoot out into a room. 

You have been warned!!