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21st Sep 2022

Increased air pollution in Ireland likely this winter due to solid fuel burning

Fiona Frawley

wood burning stove with logs stacked up beside it

Experts say household fires could result in rising air pollution in Ireland, depending on what fuel is going into them.

With fuel burning at home likely to increase this winter due to the energy crisis, air pollution experts are highlighting the impact this will have on air quality in Ireland.

As reported in the Irish Times, experts are warning that there will be days when air quality will exceed recommended EU levels because of increased burning of coal, peat and wet wood — despite strict new regulations including a nationwide smoky coal ban set to come into effect next month.

As part of a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on air quality in Ireland, Dr John Wenger of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry in UCC said “the timing is really unfortunate. Ultimately the cost of fuels is going to be (the) overriding factor this winter.”

Dr Wenger said that while some consumers may opt for smokeless coal (although price will inevitably dictate this choice), many may source their own unseasoned wet wood and peat which he says is “significantly more polluting” and a source of toxic particles.

Specialist in air pollution at Maynooth University Dr Clare Noone agreed that air pollution is likely to rise as a result of the energy crisis.

Tackling solid fuel burning is going to be very challenging. A recent EPA report indicated an increase in the number of homes switching to solid fuels rather than a decline, so households need support in order to transition away from burning coal, peat and wood to heat their homes,” she said.

Dr Noone also warned that air pollutants cause more than seven million premature deaths per year worldwide and more than 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland.

New regulations regarding solid fuels for domestic heating are set to come into effect from October 31st.

Header image via Shutterstock 

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