EPA launches new Air Quality Index for Health

Date released: Apr 15 2013

  • Air Quality Index for Health launched by the EPA – allows public to view current air quality in their region and assess its impact on their health.
  • New Twitter feed @EPAAirQuality will keep the public up to date with air quality in their region.
  • High level Air Science Policy Forum held at Farmleigh in Dublin – addressing air quality policy in the EU.
  • EEA Signals Report launched by Mr Phil Hogan, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Environmental Protection Agency today launched Ireland’s new Air Quality Index for Health. This web-based index, developed in conjunction with the Health Service Executive, Met Éireann and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government shows what the current air quality is across Ireland. The Air Quality Index for Health is a coloured scale divided into 4 bands: Good; Fair; Poor and Very poor, with health advice provided for each band.

The Air Quality Index for Health is calculated hourly and is represented on a colour coded map of Ireland, from which the public can easily assess current air quality in their area. The Air Quality Index for Health can be viewed on the EPA website.

Speaking at the launch, Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said:

“The Air Quality Index for Health allows people in Ireland to keep informed on air quality and its impact on their health. Results from the EPA’s National Air Monitoring Network are combined with information on the health effects of air pollution and shown on a colour-coded map, updated hourly. People can check current air quality for their region, find out if it might impact on their health and get advice on what they can do to reduce the effect.”

To coincide with the launch of the Air Quality Index for Health, the EPA also launched a Twitter channel @EPAAirQuality. The public can sign up to this Twitter channel and receive tweets on the status of air quality in their region every day.

To coincide with Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union www.eu2013.ie in this, the European Year of Air,an Air Science Policy Forum also took place at Farmleigh today. It was hosted by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and the Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of the forum was to facilitate discussion on the on-going review of EU Air Policy, which the European Commission is due to launch in October. The outcome of the Forum, which was attended by a range of national and EU science and policy advisers,  will help to inform the debate among EU Environment Ministers which will take place at the Informal Environment Council in Dublin Castle, next Monday, 22nd April.

 Speaking at the Forum, Mr Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government said:

“I very much welcome the focus of today’s Forum on how public policy should be evidenced based, and how the evolving best scientific knowledge of air pollution and its impact on human health should be used to inform the on-going review of EU Air Policy. Air pollution at levels experienced in the EU today is still a threat to human health and the environment, and is estimated to result in 420,000 premature deaths per year”.

The Minister added:

“I am looking forward to the debate with my fellow EU Environment Ministers in Dublin Castle next week, and raising the issue of air pollution as a continuing important policy priority, which may have been overlooked in recent years because of other global environment concerns, however, as the Forum heard today, air pollution has important science and policy inter-linkages to climate change and biodiversity. Policies to address air pollution can bring important additional benefits to these areas as well as being an important public health protection measure.”

Also today, Mr Phil Hogan, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government launched the Signals 2013 report on behalf of the European Environment Agency which is represented at today’s Policy Forum. Signals 2013 - ‘Every breath we take – Improving air quality in Europe’ consists of succinct and accessible articles covering a wide range of aspects related to air quality such as the state of Europe’s air today, the main sources of information on air quality and emissions, links between climate change and air, the way different pollutants can form in the atmosphere, and a short overview of the European legislation designed to improve air quality. The 2013 edition is prepared in the context of the European Year of Air, in advance of the launch of the review of EU Air Policy due in October.

 Speaking at the launch Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency said:

“Air quality varies considerably across Europe. It changes from city to city, day to day, even hour to hour. Getting access to accurate and timely information is essential for the public, in particular for those suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Signals explains how air pollution forms and how it affects our health and the environment, and what Europe is doing to improve air quality. It also tells people where they can get hourly updates on air quality in cities around Europe.”

Further information:

 EPA Press Office:       

Ph 053-9170770

media@epa.ie

 

Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government Press Office:

Ph: 01-8882393

press-office@environ.ie

 

EEA Press Office:

Iben Stanhardt,

Ph: +45 33 36 71 68, iben.stanhardt@eea.europa.eu

 

Arthur Girling,

 Ph: +45 33 36 71 09, arthur.girling@eea.europa.eu

Note to Editor:

View Air Quality Index for Health pages here.

Air Science Policy Forum

The EU overarching policy on air pollution and air quality, the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution, is currently under review by the European Commission. This review is designed to assess the effectiveness of policy to date and plan for the future so that the long-term EU objective “to achieve levels of air quality that do not result in unacceptable impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment” can be accomplished.

 

This Air Science Policy Forum brought together a high level panel of informed and influential science and policy makers. These individuals are directly involved in generating the research, awareness and momentum that continues to deliver progress on the EU Air challenges.