Air

while air quality in Ireland is generally good and compares favourably with many of our European neighbours, there are concerning localised issues which lead to poor air quality.

We can all help improve the quality of the air we breathe, see what you can do

Air quality and you

What you need to know about air quality

What's happening with air quality?

Ireland should move towards achieving the health-based WHO air quality guidelines

  • Air quality in Ireland is generally good, however, there are concerning localised issues that are impacting negatively on the air we breathe.
  • Ireland met all of its EU legal requirements in 2021, but it did not meet the new health-based WHO guidelines in 2021.
  • Ireland and Europe should move towards achieving the health-based WHO air quality guidelines.
  • It is estimated that there are approximately 1,300 premature deaths annually in Ireland due to poor air quality from fine particulate matter (PM5).
  • The choices we make in how we heat our homes and how we travel directly impact the quality of the air we breathe.

 

See how the air monitoring network has grown since 2017

Air Quality Index for Health

Air problem pollutant

problem pollutants - seasonal graph

 

What's being done?

traffic fumes Dublin car exhausts Dublin

Reduce home heating pollution (PM)

• Change how you heat your home by moving away from smoky fuels and instead use cleaner choices, where possible.
• Avoid using solid fuels if you have an alternative cleaner heating system.
• Make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Supports are available through The National Retrofitting Scheme.

Reduce car pollution (NO2)

• Walk, cycle or take public transport, even for the last kilometre (if you can).
• Leave the car at home (if you can) for one day a week or more.
• Carpool where possible.
• Work from home (if you can) for part of your working week.
• Go electric on your next car, if you can afford it.

What does the EPA want?

• Ireland and Europe should move towards achieving the WHO Air Quality guidelines.
• Measures to address fuel poverty, should also improve air quality.
• Local Authorities must provide more resources to increase air enforcement activities.
• The planned National Clean Air Strategy for Ireland needs to be published and fully implemented.
• National investment in clean public transport is needed across the country.

Clean Air Together

LIFE Emerald

Diffusion Tubes

Latest reports on Air

in: Air Quality
Garden Meadow
Air Quality in Ireland 2021

- Key indicators of ambient air quality in 2021

Summary of ambient air quality in 2021 based on concentration measurements of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, heavy metals, ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and benzene. While Ireland met EU legal air quality limits in 2021, it did not meet the health-based World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines for a number of pollutants including: particulate matter (PM), nitrogen Dioxide (N02), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3)

thumbnail for 2020 report on Air page
Air Quality in Ireland 2020

Air quality in Ireland during the year 2020

This assessment is based on monitoring data collected from the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network during the year 2020

Air Pollution
Air Quality in Ireland 2019

Air quality in Ireland during the year 2019

This assessment is based on monitoring data collected from the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network during the year 2019

Blue Bus, cars and bicycle in traffic
Air Quality in Ireland 2018

Air quality in Ireland during the year 2018

This assessment is based on monitoring data collected from the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network during the year 2018

Embers of a fire in a fireplace
Air quality in Ireland 2017

Air quality in Ireland during the year 2017

This assessment is based on monitoring data collected from the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network during the year 2017

FAQs about air quality

in: Air

Air quality in Ireland is generally good however there are localised issues due to the burning of smoky fuel or emissions from transport in dense urban areas.

Popular FAQ's

  • How do I monitor air quality in my home?

    The EPA only monitors outdoor ambient air.  Private consultancy firms can provide air quality monitoring in homes.

    If you are concerned about indoor air quality in your workplace you should contact the Health and Safety Authority. Tel: 1890 289 389 or visit the HSA website

  • Why is air quality important?

    Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 400,000 premature deaths are attributable to poor air quality in Europe annually. In Ireland, the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution is estimated at 1,300 people (Air Quality in Europe 2020, EEA) and is mainly due to cardiovascular disease. The WHO has described air pollution as the ‘single biggest environmental health risk’.

  • 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.

  • How does ground-level ozone form?

    Tropospheric, or ground level ozone, is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight.

    Sunshine and heat help ozone to form, so ozone pollution is most likely to be a problem on warm, sunny days.

    Another unusual thing about ozone is that it reacts with nitric oxide (NO) which is usually found in towns and cities near roads. As a result, ozone pollution is more of a problem in the countryside than in our cities.

  • What is Sulphur Dioxide?

    The main source of Sulphur Dioxide in Ireland is burning coal and oil to heat homes and industries and to produce electricity.

    It is an irritant gas which attacks the throat and lungs. Prolonged exposure can lead to increases in respiratory illnesses like chronic bronchitis. It contributes to the formation of acid rain, which damages vegetation and buildings.

    Levels in Ireland are low to moderate. Overall levels have decreased over recent years due to increased use of low-sulphur "smokeless" coal, increased use of natural gas instead of solid fuels and reduced industrial emissions through IPC licensing.

Watch our videos on Air