The extensive use of bituminous or smoky coal for home heating, which causes high levels of air pollution and formation of thick layers of fog during the winter season also known as winter smog, causing health problems according to health experts, led to the ban of bituminous (smoky) coal and its marketing, distribution and sale in certain areas, with the introduction of The Air Pollution Act from 1987.

The ban was first introduced in Dublin and Dublin County (1990) and consequently imposed on other areas in Ireland:

  • Cork City (1995);
  • Arklow, Drogheda, Dundalk, Limerick City and Wexford Town (1998);
  • Celbridge, Galway City, Leixlip, Naas and Waterford City (2000) • Bray, Kilkenny, Sligo and Tralee (2003);
  • Athlone, Carlow, Clonmel and Ennis (2011).

The legislation prohibits the use of bituminous coal for residential purposes in Ireland unless the sulphur content is below 0.7%. The above legislation is implemented and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).