All smoke, including smoke from wood burning, contains a range of toxic pollutants including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that impact on health. While, there is no set of legislation that specifically addresses smoke from wood burning, Section 26 of the Air Pollution Act gives local authorities powers to serve a notice on the occupier of any premises in order to prevent or to limit air pollution from that premises.
It is a matter for a Local Authority to exercise its judgement in any individual case as to whether a nuisance is being caused and, if so, what abatement action is required. It should be noted that this section applies equally to all sources of emissions to air, including the burning of substances other than wood.
There can be a big variation in the quality of wood sold in Ireland. Purchasing cheap low quality fuel may prove to be a false economy as much of the energy is needed to burn off excess moisture in the wood rather than providing heat output to the consumer; and the reduced combustion temperature can result in the increased generation of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as dioxins which are promoted by the high chlorine levels in the fuel. While there are no statutory regulations for biomass quality, a voluntary Wood Fuel Quality Assurance scheme is in place.
In relation to air pollution more generally, recent scientific evidence indicates that it is more damaging at lower concentrations than was previously understood. With this in mind, I am committed to bringing forward Ireland's first ever National Clean Air Strategy. The Strategy, which I intend to publish this year, will provide the policy framework necessary to identify and promote integrated measures across Government that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air, while delivering on wider national objectives. Domestic solid fuel use will be addressed in the context of the strategy.