Two main pollutants were focused on:
Particulate matter – PM2.5 and PM10 ‐ very small particles which can be solid or liquid. Particulate matter is usually just called PM with a number after it to show how small the PM is (These are PM10 and PM2.5). The EPA monitors these two types of PM. PM2.5 is more important than PM10 from a health perspective as it is more impactful.
Nitrogen oxides (NO2 and NO) – are the gases nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Both of these are pollutants that are emitted in ambient air when petrol or diesel is burned in internal combustion engines. NO2 is more important than NO from our point of view as its impact on health is higher.
Air quality in Ireland in 2019
- Air quality in Ireland is generally good however there are localised issues.
- There was one exceedance of the EU annual average legal limit values in 2019 at one urban traffic station in Dublin due to pollution from transport.
- Ireland was above World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guideline value levels at 33 monitoring sites – mostly due to the burning of solid fuel in our cities, towns and villages.
- Ireland was above the European Environment Agency reference level for PAH, a toxic chemical, at 4 monitoring sites due to the burning of solid fuel.
- Particulate matter from the burning of solid fuel – is estimated to cause 1300 premature deaths.
- Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from transport emissions is polluting our urban areas.
- Indications that we will exceed EU limit values for NO2 at further monitoring stations in the future.
What should be done
To tackle the problem of particulate matter we should:
- Move away from burning solid fuel (coal, wood, turf) towards cleaner ways of heating our homes like gas or electrified heating.
- Implement a national Smoky Coal ban and determine the feasibility of a wider smoky fuel ban for towns and cities.
To reduce the impact of NO2 we must:
- Follow through on the legal requirement for an air quality action plan to be developed for Dublin to protect health.
- Implement the transport options in the Government’s Climate Action Plan, promoting clean public transport and increasing the use of electric vehicles.
- All, as individuals, consider our transport choices for each journey we take.
National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme
- Currently 84 monitoring stations in the national network.
- 24 new monitoring stations were brought online during 2019.
- 3 stations were upgraded.
- 42 schools have now taken part in the GLOBE schools project operated in partnership with An Taisce
Source – Environmental Protection Agency