Cork County Council is encouraging residents and businesses across the county to put air quality first this winter by carefully considering their fuel choices. Where there is no alternative to lighting a fire, residents are urged to choose low smoke fuel options, readily identifiable with labels reading “Approved Fuel – contents comply with the Air Pollution Act Regulations”. While protecting and improving air quality is a collective responsibility, individuals have the power to make a positive impact by avoiding bituminous or ‘smoky’ coal.
According to a 2016 report by the OECD, “Unless we clean up the air, by the middle of the century one person will die prematurely every five seconds from outdoor air pollution.” The World Health Organisation is also clear that particle pollution from solid fuel burning has detrimental health impacts even at very low concentrations, in that no threshold has been identified below which there is no damage to health. In Ireland, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that each year there are 1,500 early deaths due to air pollution. The burning of bituminous coal and other smoky solid fuels is acknowledged to be the biggest threat to good air quality, both indoor and out, while the burning of low smoke alternatives has been found to significantly reduce public health risks.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Christopher O’Sullivan reinforces the message that air quality within the home, as well as outside, is affected by burning smoky coal: “We are asking people to take simple steps to protect air quality in their homes and businesses. If you must light a fire, there is a range of innovative low smoke solid fuel products, including low smoke coal, available on the market.”
Cork County Council Chief Executive, Tim Lucey reminds householders that: “Low smoke solid fuel is cleaner and more energy efficient, while delivering improved air quality, when compared with smoky coal. We urge Cork County households to never burn household waste in their fires or stoves.“
Mayor O’Sullivan went on to say “The best step we can each take to improve our air quality is not to light a fire, but if you must, then make sure to choose a low smoke fuel. Remember, we make our own air quality.”
For further information on the Cork County Council Low Smoke Zone, see: www.corkcoco.ie/environment