Coal link to asthma identified in Galway
A 20-year study has found a link between black smoke levels from carbon fuels being burned and children being admitted to hospital with asthma.
It found that this correlation was strongest in 1995 amongst children between the ages of one and four.
The study from University College Hospital Galway was based on children in Galway between the ages of one and 14 years, during the years 1985 to 2005.
Published in the 'Irish Medical Journal', the study also discovered that these admissions had been rising steadily until 1995, but dropped off afterwards due to "cleaner coal".
The authors said the rise in smoke levels until 1995 coincided with a growth in registered vehicle numbers in Galway.
However, while vehicle numbers continued to grow after this period, smoke levels dropped due to more stringent emission policies.
"The reason for this rise and fall in black smoke from the mid-nineties is probably a combination of changes in domestic and vehicle use," the authors said. "Sale of bituminous (black) coal was banned in 2000, and this was associated with a further small reduction in smoke levels."
The prevalence of asthma increased throughout the last three decades of the 20th century, but this plateaued and is now in decline.