New regulations governing the burning of solid fuels in the home will come into effect on October 31st 2022. The Air Pollution Act 1987 (Solid Fuel) Regulations 2022 aim to build upon previous efforts to improve air quality across Ireland and to reduce premature deaths and illnesses arising from air pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate that each year there are 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland due to air pollution. The burning of bituminous coal and other smoky solid fuels releases particulate matter into the atmosphere.The most harmful of these, PM2.5particles, have been proven to have a significant detrimental effect on human health. The elderly, the very young and other vulnerable groups, such as people with respiratory conditions, are particularly at risk.
Medical research has shown links between the burning of bituminous coal in private houses and increased health risks including heart attack, stroke, cancer, brain tumours, asthma, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and many other cardiac and respiratory conditions.
The new regulations are being introduced across a range of fuels to ensure that the most polluting solid fuels will no longer be available for sale on the Irish market.The regulations apply to all solid fuels used for domestic heating purposes: coal and coal-based products, turf, peat briquettes, wood and manufactured solid fuels including manufactured biomass products.
The new regulations will mean the following:
- Very low smoke emissions rates will be set for coal, coal-based products and manufactured solid fuel or peat briquettes. This will effectively prohibit the use of bituminous coal i.e. smoky coal in the future. Smoky coal refers to coal that is branded Polish, Columbian, House coal etc.
- Wood sold in single units under 2m³ will be required to have a moisture content of 25% or less
- Wet wood sold over these volumes will be required to come with instructions for the purchaser on how to dry the wood
- The regulations specifically include a prohibition on the sale of turf from retail premises, such as shops, service stations, fuel yards, websites, media, public spaces and public houses.
- Householders should be aware that burning any type of waste in a domestic fire is illegal and that it releases toxic substances into the air in your home and the surrounding environment. Treated timber, which contains glues, resins and paints, should also never be burned in a domestic fire for the same reasons.
Further information for producers, retailers and householders is available on the clean air section of the gov.ie website.
Cork County Council will be running a public awareness campaign in November with further information on the new regulations.
Cork County Council will be responsible for enforcing these regulations in its functional area. Inspections will be carried out on retailers, coal merchants and coal delivery trucks.