EPA identifies 2 key issues impacting Irish air quality

An environmental official has said that it is now time to tackle the two key issues impacting negatively on air quality in Ireland: “Transport emissions in large urban areas and emissions from solid-fuel burning across the country.”

The message came from the director general of the EPA, Laura Burke, after the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) annual Air Quality report was released today (Tuesday, November 27).

The report claims that while Ireland’s air quality did not exceed legal limit values in 2017, it is impacting negatively on people’s health.

The report outlined that levels of particulate matter – dust – in the air is of growing concern. In urban areas, transport related emissions of nitrogen dioxide are close to the EU limit.

It found dust levels to be particularly high during winter months when people’s use of solid fuels such as coal, peat and wood impacts on air quality and on health, especially in small towns and villages.

The report shows that Ireland is above the health-related and tighter World Health Organization and European Environment Agency guideline values.

In launching the report titled ‘Air Quality in Ireland 2017 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality’, the EPA’s director general said: “We all expect the air we breathe is clean but we cannot take this for granted.

“The choices we all make as individuals affect the levels of pollution in the air we breathe which have an impact on people’s health and life expectancy.”

Health Impacts

Speaking at a National Air Event in Kilkenny last week, organised by the EPA, Francois Wakenhut – from the European Commission’s Clean Air Unit – clearly outlined the health impacts of air pollution in Ireland.

Wakenhut said: “There is an increasing awareness of the urgencies of air quality; people demand from Government that we do more to deliver clean air.

The European Environment Agency have estimated 1,150 premature deaths in Ireland are directly attributable to poor air quality.

Patrick Kenny, EPA air quality manager, said: “The choices that each of us makes about how we heat our homes, dispose of our waste and travel to work and school can directly impact on our local air quality.

“Providing more localised, real-time air quality information will help people to be better informed when making these choices and will provide a better picture of what is impacting on our air quality.”

The National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme, managed by the EPA, is hoping to deliver 16 new monitoring stations and upgrade 10 existing monitoring stations to real-time monitoring by the end of 2018.

The EPA has said it continually monitors air quality across Ireland and provides the air quality index for health and real-time results on its website.

According to the EPA, the results are updated hourly on the website, and you can log on at any time to check whether the current air quality in your locality is good, fair or poor.