Many things increase the pollutants we produce when heating our homes with solid fuels. These include what we burn, how we burn it and the maintenance of our heating appliance and chimney.
The Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012-2020 (and amendments) provides the legal basis for the so called ‘Smoky Coal Ban’. These regulations ban the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of bituminous coal in the following ‘Low Smoke Zones (LSZs) in County Kildare (see link below).
Why should I think twice before lighting a fire? In Ireland, household fires are the main source of an air pollutant called fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5). This pollutant is linked to approximately 1,300 deaths in Ireland each year, with a total of some 16,200 Years of Life Lost. Exposure to PM2.5 can spark asthma attacks and can cause a range of respiratory problems such as such as bronchitis, bronchiolitis (which affects one in four children under the age of two), pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and other illnesses. It can also cause short-term health such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are most at risk. By choosing not to light a fire if you have other heating sources available, you can help reduce the levels of PM2.5 in our air. This will help you and your community to enjoy better health and live longer.
If you don’t have any alternative, continue to light your fire when you need to. We simply ask that you consider your choice of fuel and use low smoke options as outlined in the EPA infographic at the following link.
The EPA infographic highlights a range of heating options from most to least polluting. We would ask you to consider if possible, using what other less polluting heating methods available to you, before thinking of lighting a fire. If you sometimes light a fire for cosiness or ambience in addition to using one of these other heating sources, it might be useful to check the air quality in your area before you do particularly on days where the air is still and there is no wind to help disperse the smoke from your chimney. Information on air quality in a number of local areas is available on the EPA’s website via an interactive map at the following link;
In the longer term, retrofitting your home so that it’s better insulated and more heat efficient may be an option for you. You can do this in stages focusing on the best options for your own home to help keep as much heat in your home as possible. Advice, grants, and supports are all available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). More details are available at
The interactive map of Low Smoke Zones, including an Eircode search facility to allow the user to determine if a particular premises is covered by the ban, is available at:
The Air Quality Map that provides the most recent information on air quality in certain areas