Air pollution caused 1,300 deaths in 2019

By June Shannon Policy News   |   25th Sep 2020

The Irish Heart Foundation calls for immediate government action to tackle the growing problem of air pollution

The Irish Heart Foundation has called on the Government to immediately ban smoky coal in Ireland to stop a surge in deaths from air pollution in the wake of a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on air quality which was released today, (Friday September 25).

The charity is also looking for the “rapid phasing out” of other harmful fuels such as turf and wet wood.

According to the EPA’s annual air quality report for 2019, air pollution caused 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland last year – up from 1,180 in 2018.

The 2019 figure is almost ten times the death toll of 141 on Irish roads last year.

“Unless the Government moves to ban the burning of these solid fuels nationwide without delay, we will see more and more people tragically lose their lives to air pollution,”

Tim Collins, CEO, The Irish Heart Foundation.

“Unless the Government moves to ban the burning of these solid fuels nationwide without delay, we will see more and more people tragically lose their lives to air pollution,” said Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation.

“The burning of these solid fuels is emitting dangerous levels of fine particulate matter into our air and tragically leading to an estimated 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland, the majority of which are due to cardiovascular disease.

“We have seen the great work that has been undertaken over the past several years to lower road fatalities in Ireland. Yet, even though there are nearly ten times more premature deaths attributable to air pollution than deaths on our road, we continue to see Government inaction.

“It is unacceptable that in 2020, citizens in Ireland are suffering worsening levels of air quality to the detriment of their health.”

The Government, he added, cannot continue to bow to the legal threats from solid fuel companies when they are fully aware of the health risks caused by the burning of their products.

“International studies also indicate that air pollution has inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems,"

Tim Collins, CEO, The Irish Heart Foundation

In addition to the nationwide smoky coal ban, the Irish Heart Foundation is also calling for a rapid phasing out of turf and wet wood.

The EPA’s Air Quality report for 2019 shows that while Ireland’s air quality was generally good last year, there were still serious issues of concern.

For example, it found that air pollution was worsening in urban areas due to traffic-related nitrogen dioxide emissions and one Dublin traffic monitoring location exceeded the EU limit value.

The Irish Heart Foundation said it was gravely concerned that air pollutants were above World Health Organisation guidelines for health at 33 monitoring stations across Ireland – caused by the burning of solid fuel in cities, towns and villages.

“Recent research by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland found that levels of winter air pollution in Dublin were linked to a rise in the number of people hospitalised for a stroke, ” said Mr Collins.

“International studies also indicate that air pollution has inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems and making elderly people and those already struggling with heart disease particularly vulnerable.”

He said now was the perfect time for the Government to end the burning of solid fuels – with recent evidence that long-term exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of death from Covid-19.

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air pollution cardiovascular diease climate action climate crisis environment heart disease stroke

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