The burning of smoky coal, turf and wet wood are major contributors to localised cases of poor air quality in our cities and lead to associated increases in heart failure, breathing difficulties and asthma sufferers being admitted to hospital. Galway City Council is now urging the public to consider alternatives.
Under current regulations the sale, marketing, distribution and burning of bituminous (smoky) coal is not permitted in specific low smoke zones (LSZs) across the country. These apply in our cities and all towns with populations in excess of 10,000 people – including Galway City.
Burning turf, smoky coal and wet wood produce high volumes of smoke and is one of the biggest contributors to tiny particles of pollution, or particulate matter, which are then breathed in. This is followed by peat briquettes, dry wood and finally low smoke or smokeless coal. Particulate matter is a significant contributor to asthma levels in our young population and can cause breathing difficulties.
A 2019 study, published in the Irish Medical Journal, found that there were significant rises in admissions to hospitals for patients with asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and heart failure in Dublin between 2014 and 2018 with changes in air quality from good to very poor.
Environmental Awareness Officer, Galway City Council:
“Burning smoky coal in your house is already illegal in Galway City - with a potential fine of €5,000 - and I would urge householders to also move away from burning turf and wet wood as it creates very poor air quality for both you and your neighbours. Young children who may be out playing are breathing in heavily polluted air which is stinging their eyes and also leading to increases in asthma and other respiratory illnesses.”
Ireland’s biggest source of air pollution is the burning of solid fuel in residential properties, and this is also a main contributor to an estimated 1,300 premature deaths a year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said. According to the Asthma Society of Ireland one person dies every six days from Asthma in Ireland. One in ten Irish children currently have asthma which, aside from the obvious negative impact to their health, also costs the state €472 Million per annum.
Environmental Awareness Officer:
“Many houses are also transitioning to clean renewable sources of energy such as heat pumps and solar panels where grant funding may be applied for by the home owner to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). In conjunction with our climate change carbon emission reduction targets each home owner can do their share to improve the air quality in their area which will have positive effects on their health and general wellbeing.’’
Galway City Council authorised officers investigate complaints of Air Pollution on an ongoing basis and any alleged offence in relation to the sale or burning of smoky coal should be reported to Galway City Council on 091-536400 or by email at email@example.com