Wednesday 17 July 2019

Homes that burn wood and peat 'pollute the air quality in capital'

Jurgita Ovadnevaite
Jurgita Ovadnevaite
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The small proportion of households who use wood or peat as the main fuel to heat their homes is responsible for most air pollution in the capital, according to research.

A study by NUI Galway has found that quality guidelines were breached once in every five days between November 2016 and January 2017, due to particulates arising from burning wood and peat.

A pollution plume with a radius of 3km stretched across the city from UCD, where monitoring equipment was installed, on two days over the period.

The instruments found "particularly high concentrations" of particulate matter.

The findings of the study, published in the 'Nature Sustainability' journal, suggest that 'climate-friendly' fuels that produce fewer greenhouse gases have a detrimental effect on air quality.

These can have serious health consequences.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has an air quality guideline, and researchers used new technology to analyse the make-up of particulate matter in the air.

They found "extraordinary" levels of pollution, 10 times the quality guidelines. The report said few households used solid fuels as primary heat sources, with "relatively clean fuels" employed in most.

But it added: "This study demonstrates how only a few households (less than 13pc) that burn biomass for heating, especially heat, could cause recurring extreme pollution events, influencing the overall air quality in the city."

Co-author Dr Jurgita Ovadnevaite, from NUI Galway, said the study highlighted that low-carbon fuels could affect air quality and that while most homes were heated using cleaner forms of energy, many used open fires which added to the problem.

Irish Independent

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