The advice is to burn smokeless coal products
The recently published EPA’s Air Quality Report 2018 highlighted the fact that air pollution is a major environmental health risk with an estimated 1,180 premature deaths in Ireland being attributed to poor air quality in 2016. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was identified as predominantly responsible for those premature deaths. The burning of solid fuel for home heating was identified by EPA funded Irish research as the leading contributor to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations across Ireland.
The Asthma Society of Ireland has reported that ‘nearly 2,000 lives are lost on the island of Ireland each year from smoky coal pollution and the right to clean air needs to be recognized. Smoke from smoky coal is a common trigger for people with asthma, causing worsening symptoms and increasing the risk of having an asthma attack.’ People with other respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema and sinusitis are also adversely affected.
This winter the Environmental Protection Agency is asking home owners to carefully consider their choice of fuels for heating their homes. Of the typical traditional heating options available, the cleanest and most energy efficient means of heating your home is with a gas or oil boiler. You should also have your boiler serviced regularly to ensure it is operating efficiently and saving you money.
How to reduce harmful air pollution from solid fuel burning in open fires/stoves
- Don’t burn waste in your open fire or solid fuel stove. There is no type of waste that is safe to burn in your fire/stove. Burning waste in your fire releases pollutants including dioxins (many of which cause cancer), carbon monoxide, particles that contain arsenic, mercury, lead and other heavy metals into your home and into the atmosphere. It is also illegal to burn waste and if caught, you could be fined.
- Don’t burn treated or coated wood, chipboard, plywood or MDF as this can release harmful toxic pollutants into your home and that of your neighbour’s.
- Store all solid fuel under cover. Ensure that turf/wood/coal is stored under cover to keep it dry over the winter. Wet fuel won’t burn brightly and will produce more smoke and pollutants. Burning wet fuel also increases the risk of damaging your stove/flue.
- Burn smokeless coal products. These products are available in all solid fuel outlets and are clearly labelled as ‘Smokeless’ or ‘Low Smoke’.
Installing solid fuel stoves
If you are installing a solid fuel stove then you must ensure that you get a certified stove (carrying the CE marking) from a reputable supplier, and that it and its flue/chimney is properly installed in compliance with Building Regulations and the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also ensure that the stove chimney/flue is appropriate for the solid fuel being used.
Leitrim County Council receives many smoke related complaints at this time of year and urges residents of villages and towns in particular, to carefully consider the advice in this article to minimise the negative impacts they are having on their own health and that of their neighbours.