What are the main pollutants of concern to the environment and human health?

The ambient air quality pollutants of most concern on an EU-wide level are Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Particulate Matter (PM), Ozone (O3) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). They can impact on human health, ecosystems and vegetation and monitoring is carried out to determine their concentration levels.

The EPA is the statutory body responsible for monitoring air quality in Ireland. In order to protect our health, vegetation and ecosystems, a number of EU directives set down air quality standards for Ireland and the other EU member states for a wide variety of pollutants. The monitoring, assessment and management of ambient air quality in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the EU Air Quality Framework Directive and Clean Air for Europe Directive. Specific ambient air quality standards have been prescribed for the following pollutants in ambient air and/or deposition from air:

  • sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead;
  • carbon monoxide and benzene;
  • ozone; and
  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and mercury in ambient air.

In addition to publishing a comprehensive report on air quality annually, the EPA also reports the results of current air quality monitoring of the above pollutants through our website.  View real-time air quality data  for locations around the country.

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