Stay warm and protect the environment and your health this winter

Date released: Nov 08 2013

As the winter season approaches the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking householders to consider taking some simple measures when heating their homes this winter.  These steps will minimise the impact of home heating on air quality and on people’s health.

Dr Ian Marnane of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,

“Pollution from poor home heating practices such as burning unseasoned timber or waste can have a significant impact on air quality in local areas, with associated health impacts particularly for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly and people with existing health problems. 

The cleanest and most energy efficient means of heating a home is with a gas boiler or an oil boiler though open fires and stoves are still a popular means of home heating in Ireland.  To protect air quality, many areas across the country now have a ban on the sale and use of smoky coal and residents in these areas are obliged to burn only smokeless fuels. Residents in other locations outside these ban areas should also consider using smokeless coal to minimise their impact on the local environment. There is a range of clean innovative smokeless solid fuel products available on the market which are cleaner and which deliver improved air quality and human health benefits. 

Dr Marnane added,

“Waste should be disposed of properly and not burned in an open fire or solid fuel stove. Burning waste is illegal as burning materials such as plastics and magazines results in harmful toxic pollutants which can impact on air quality both within your house and in your immediate neighbourhood.  Apart from the potential air quality and health effects, burning waste can also result in damage to stoves and chimneys.”

Ian Marnane also reminded householders to consider insulating their homes.  He said,

 “In order to minimise your heating requirements, look to insulate your home. Grants are available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for various energy efficiency improvements from attic insulation to boiler upgrades and will make a difference to your heating bill.”

The EPA’s most recent air quality report, Air Quality In Ireland 2012 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality, released in September, showed that air quality in Ireland is generally of a high standard across the country, but particulate matter in our air is of growing concern, especially during the winter months when people’s fuel choices can directly impact on air quality and on our health.

Notes to Editors:

Air Quality Monitoring:

The EPA continually monitors air quality across Ireland and provides real-time results on the website at Results are updated hourly on the website, and people can log on at any time to check whether the current air quality in their locality is good, fair or poor.

The Air Quality Index for Health is calculated hourly and is represented on a colour coded map of Ireland divided into 4 bands: Good; Fair; Poor and Very poor, with health advice provided for each band. The Index was developed by the EPA in conjunction with the Health Service Executive, Met Éireann and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government shows what the current air quality is across Ireland. A related Twitter channel @EPAAirQuality is also available. The public can sign up to this Twitter channel and receive tweets on the status of air quality in their region every day.