Friday 6 December 2019

Don't keep the home fires burning

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Stock image

Lynne Kelleher

Irish people must stop lighting fires in their homes, according to one of the country's leading air quality scientists.

Dr Micheal O'Dwyer from the Environmental Protection Agency makes the clear-cut statement in RTE's 10 Thing to Know About which reveals 1,500 premature deaths in Ireland every year are linked to air pollution.

The scientist said cosy fires in the winter need to be a thing of the past. He said: "We need to move away from burning things for heat, we need to move to cleaner ways of heating our homes.

"I know [people] may be angry, they may even not believe it but unfortunately these are the facts."

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Dr O'Dwyer said Ireland currently meets the legal requirements for air quality but not World Health Organisation guidelines.

"It means air quality is impacting on people's health in Ireland," he said.

"The two main culprits for poor air quality in Ireland are fine particulate matter from the burning of solid fuel and nitrogen dioxide from emissions from transport and traffic. People are still using solid fuel for home heating."

10 Things to Know About explains that particulate matter is the term used for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air which can be hazardous to health.

The minuscule particles can be directly emitted from fires or from power plants, industries or other sources.

"It's very small particles that go into your lungs and impact on your lungs", said Dr O'Dwyer.

"They can get into the blood stream and cause cardio-pulmonary disease. They cause respiratory disease."

'10 Things To Know About' will be shown on RTE One tomorrow at 8.30pm

Sunday Independent

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