Asthma Society says smoky coal ban ‘would save 2,000 lives’

Charity says all-Ireland measure would reduce rate of respiratory disease and cancer

The Asthma Society has called on governments North and South to introduce an immediate all-Ireland ban on smoky coal.

The charity says the measure would save up to 2,000 lives a year because of reduced rates of cancer and respiratory diseases.

The sale and distribution of smoky coal was banned in Dublin in 1990 and the prohibition has been progressively extended to 20 large cities and towns since then.

Researchers have estimated 8,200 lives have been saved as a result of the ban, which was introduced by former Progressive Democrat minister Mary Harney.


Over the past decade, international research has increasingly focused on the possible role of particulate matter in the air, especially that released through the burning of solid fuels, in rising rates of cancer and other diseases.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is currently funding a project on the relative contribution of various solid fuel sources to particulate matter concentrations in Ireland.

The project, which started in 2014, is will at particulate matter in urban and rural areas with an emphasis on areas with high usage of peat, coal and wood. The research will be ready for publication at the end of 2016.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times