Air quality in Ireland remains good

Date released: Sep 29 2009

2008 air quality monitoring shows:

  • Air quality was good at monitoring stations throughout the country, meeting all EU standards.
  • In cities, emissions from traffic are the main threat to air quality leading to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) than in other areas.
  • In smaller towns, levels of particulate matter (PM10) are elevated due to continued use of bituminous coal.
  • Real-time air quality information for Ireland, which is updated hourly, is available on EPA website.

The EPA report Air Quality in Ireland 2008 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality released today shows that air quality in Ireland was good throughout the country and complied with all the air quality standards in force across Europe for all pollutants. Results were based on monitoring data from 30 stations, producing hourly or daily data as required by the EU Directives on Air Quality.  

Dr Ciaran O’ Donnell, EPA Programme Manager said,

“Our results for 2008 show that air quality in Ireland remains good, however it can be improved further by reducing local emissions.  Traffic and smoky fuel are the two main factors adversely affecting air quality in Ireland.  The EPA asks the public to consider the environmental effects of their choice of domestic fuel and mode of transport.”

The main pollutants recorded in 2008 were nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10).  Nitrogen dioxide levels were highest in the most urbanised areas, mainly due to traffic density.  Particulates were highest in cities and smaller towns.  This is most probably due to traffic density in cities and use of smoky fuel in smaller towns.

New monitoring locations in 2008 included, Blanchardstown, Clonskeagh, Dún Laoghaire, Knocklyon and Tallaght in Dublin and Letterkenny in County Donegal. The Air Quality in Ireland 2008 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality report, available in both English and Irish, can be found on the EPA website.

The EPA continually monitors air quality across Ireland and provides real-time results.  Results are updated hourly on the website, and you can log on at any time to check whether your current air quality is good, fair or poor.

Further information: EPA Media Relations Office - 053-917 0770 (24 hours)

Notes to the Editor:

  • µg/m3 - micrograms per cubic metre
  • mg/m3 - milligrams per cubic metre
  • AOT40 - Sum of the difference between hourly concentrations greater than 80 µg/m3 (40 ppb) and 80 µg/m3 over a given period using only the one-hour values measured between 8.00 and 20.00 Central European Time each day

Report Highlights:

  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2) concentrations measured in 2008 were very low relative to the limit values. There were no exceedances of either the daily limit value of 125 µg/m3 or the hourly limit value of 350 µg/m3 at any station.
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations measured in 2008 were compliant with all limit values. The highest annual mean value of 36 µg/m3 recorded at Winetavern Street in Dublin was within the limit value of 40 µg/m3.  Navan and Blanchardstown monitoring stations both recorded one exceedance of the forthcoming hourly limit value which will permit no more than 18 exceedances greater than 200 µg/m3 in a calendar year from 2010 onwards.
  • Particulate matter (PM10) concentrations in 2008 were all compliant with the standard introduced from 2005, which permits no more than 35 daily values greater than the limit value of 50 µg/m3. Annual mean concentrations measured at all stations were below the 40 µg/m3 limit value for annual mean. This report also contains black smoke results for the April 2007–March 2008 reporting period; these show a continuation of the low levels recorded in recent years.
  • Lead (Pb) concentrations measured at all stations in 2008 were below the limit value of 0.5 µg/m3 which came into force on 1 January 2005.  Urban lead levels recorded were all less than one-tenth of the limit value.
  • Benzene (C6H6) concentrations measured at all stations in 2008 were below the forthcoming limit value of 5 µg/m3 which will be mandatory from 2010.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations measured at all fixed locations and at a number of additional EPA mobile sites in 2008 were well within the daily 8-hour mean limit of 10 mg/m3. The highest maximum 8-hour CO level of 6 mg/m3 was recorded at Coleraine Street in Dublin.
  • Ozone (O3) concentrations measured in Ireland in 2008 were similar to those measured in 2007. The hourly information threshold of 180 µg/m3 was not exceeded at any station. The 8-hour target value of 120 µg/m3 was exceeded at four rural stations and one suburban station.  The highest number of exceedances was 8 days at Valentia, well within the permitted number of 25 days. The AOT40 2020 long-term objective of 6,000 µg/m3.h for the protection of vegetation was exceeded at two rural stations, Mace Head and Valentia.