Air pollution and wood-burning heaters


Sir, – I refer to the article “Air quality: parts of Dublin city on course to breach EU guidelines” (News, September 25th) and recall earlier calls proposing the banning of domestic wood-burning heaters on the grounds that particulates released into the air contributed to pollutants that were detrimental to human health.

There are a number of issues with such a proposed solution.

Wood is a renewable fuel resource. In Ireland, wood is usually a locally supplied resource. and in many areas contributes to the local rural economy through selective harvesting of small wood lots and the gathering of naturally fallen trees and branches.

In economic terms, this avoids dependence on networked electricity, oil, and gas, as well as being ecologically sustainable. Particulates produced through incineration are controlled in industrial operations through a variety of methods including filters. This solution can be retrofitted to domestic stacks, and licensed to ensure compliance standards, as already applying to septic tanks, rather than a ban.

Within the last 10 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was advocating wood-firing methods of domestic heating. Surely the EPA was well aware of the particulate danger then.

The proposal to reverse its policy may have more to do with lobbying by the vested interests of fossil-fuel providers than any concern for human health. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.