Ban on coal burning in Dublin cleans the air, reduces death rates

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1990 ban on coal sales and coal burning had desired effect

In the 1980s, Dublin’s air quality suffered as people switched from oil to cheaper and more available coal for home and water heating. On Sept. 1, 1990, the Irish government banned the sale and distribution of bituminous coals within the city of Dublin. This offered researchers a unique opportunity to assess the effects of particulate pollution on mortality and the general population. Douglas Dockery, study co-author and professor of environmental epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said about the study findings, “The results could not be more clear: reducing particulate air pollution reduces the number of respiratory and cardiovascular related deaths immediately.” The study — by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Trinity College and the Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland — appeared in the Oct. 19, 2002 issue of The Lancet. The study was supported in part by funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the RCD Hospital Trust, Glaxo Research, Enterprise Ireland, the Dublin Institute of Technology, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.