Rising traffic and solid fuel emissions a serious threat to public health – Asthma Society

16 Nov 2016
Smoke from an exhaust pipe

EPA report shows need to increase tax on diesel and implement a national ban on smoky coal

“Rising traffic and solid fuel emissions pose a serious threat to public health, especially for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma”, the CEO of the Asthma Society Averil Power said today (16/11/16).

She was speaking following the publication of a report by the Environmental Protection Agency which showed that Ireland’s emissions from traffic and solid fuels increased in 2015. Our emissions were also in excess of World Health Organisation guidelines.

According to Ms Power, “Rising air pollution is a serious health risk to the 470,000 Irish people with asthma. Pollution can trigger asthma symptoms, cause asthma attacks and even result in hospitalisation. In light of the EPA data released today, it is essential that the Government follows through on its commitment to a national ban on smoky coal and revisits the favourable taxation of diesel.”

“Research has also shown that there is no longer a justification for taxing motor diesel at a lower rate than petrol. Many newer petrol cars have lower emissions than diesel cars.  Car manufacturers have also been shown to have made misleading claims about emissions from their diesel engines. In light of this information, the Government should equalise taxes on petrol and diesel and use the proceeds to improve our environment", she said. 

Ms Power concluded by welcoming the EPA report as an important contribution to the air quality debate in Ireland. "The Asthma Society is committed to working with the EPA and other partners to make better air quality a public and political priority", she said. 


“The burning of smoky coal was banned in Dublin and other urban areas over 25 years ago. However, it is still allowed in other parts of the country. The Government committed in 2015 to a nationwide ban on smoky coal. It is essential this is implemented without further delay.

Averil Power- Asthma Society CEO

About Asthma

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of varying severity that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry the air in and out of the lungs.  People with asthma have airways that are extra sensitive to substances (or triggers), which irritate them. Common triggers include cold and flu, cigarette smoke, exercise and allergic responses to pollen, furry or feathery animals or house-dust mites.

When the airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways swell and produces sticky mucus.  As the airways narrow, it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out. That is why people with asthma wheeze and find breathing difficult. 

Whilst there is no cure, asthma can be controlled by avoiding triggers and by the use of ‘reliever’ and ‘controller’ medication. Relievers are medicines that people with asthma take immediately when asthma symptoms appear. Controllers help calm the airways and stop them from being so sensitive.

The Asthma Society receives funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, through the Scheme to Support National Organizations 2016-2019.

For more information please contact Kevin Kelly, Advocacy & Communications Manager at the Asthma Society of Ireland on 0858520912 or Averil Power on 086 7277770.