Air quality in Ireland is generally good

Date released: Nov 10 2010

  • EPA Report Air Quality In Ireland 2009 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality released today.
  • 2009 air quality monitoring shows:
    • Air quality in Ireland was generally good at monitoring stations across the country.
    • Due to traffic, levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) remain a concern in Dublin and Cork city centres.
    • One site at Dublin city centre exceeded 2010 nitrogen dioxide limits.
    • In smaller towns concentrations of particulate matter are elevated due to the use of bituminous coal.
  • Real-time air quality information for Ireland is available on the EPA website.

The EPA report Air Quality In Ireland 2009 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality released today shows that air quality in Ireland was generally good throughout the country.

The report provides an overview of air quality in Ireland for 2009, based on data obtained from 28 monitoring stations.

Data from the EPA monitoring program shows that air quality in Ireland continues to be well above the European average, especially in relation to ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Air quality in Ireland is generally of a high standard across the country due to prevailing Atlantic airflows, relatively few large cities and the lack of widespread heavy industries. However, levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide remain of concern.

Dr. Micheál Lehane, EPA Programme Manager said:

“Air quality across Ireland is generally good. However increased levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter observed at Dublin and Cork city centres show the need to reduce the environmental impact of traffic. Vehicle emissions technology has undoubtedly decreased the impact of individual vehicles, but any benefits have been offset by an increase in the number of vehicles.”

Traffic is the primary source of nitrogen dioxide and is also one of the main sources of particulate matter. Levels of nitrogen dioxide are high in Dublin and Cork city centres and, in 2009, exceeded the 2010 limit value at Winetavern Street monitoring station in Dublin city centre.  The four Dublin local authorities are preparing a plan to address the 2009 exceedance of the limit value. Provisional data indicates that levels of nitrogen dioxide measured to 30 September in 2010 are below the limit value.

Domestic solid fuel use is the other main source of particulate matter in air in Ireland and particularly impacts air quality in areas where the sale of bituminous coal is permitted. As a result, levels of particulate matter in smaller towns are similar or worse than those in cities.

Dr Lehane commented:

“The EPA asks the public to consider the impact that their choice of domestic heating fuel can have on the environment and air quality. An extension of the ban on the sale of bituminous coal to other areas would also further improve air quality.”

Measured values of sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), heavy metals, benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were all below limit and target values set out in the Clean Air For Europe Directive 2008 and 4th Daughter Directive. New stations in 2009 included Ringsend and Rosemount in Dublin and Newbridge in County Kildare.

The Air Quality in Ireland 2009 – 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 on the website.  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.


ENDS
Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Media Relations Office - 053-91 70770 (24 hours)

Notes to the Editor

In 2009,  levels of nitrogen dioxide exceeded the 2010 limit value (40 microgrammes per cubic metre) at one monitoring station in Dublin (Winetavern Street = 45 microgrammes per cubic metre). The reason for this has not been determined but is unlikely to be due to a significant increase in emissions. The four Dublin local authorities must prepare an air quality management plan to address this exceedance.