Date released: November 02, 2023
The air quality forecast will help people plan their activities to follow public health advice, such as reducing physical activity when air pollution levels could affect their health.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today launched a national air quality forecast to provide greater information to the public regarding expected air quality in Ireland for up to three days - “Today", “Tomorrow” and the “Day after Tomorrow”.
Forecasts include daily Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH), Particulate Matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3). PM, NO2 and O3 are the three main air pollutants impacting human health in Ireland. All pollutants mapped are presented on the Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH) scale (1 – 10).
Marking the launch of the forecast, Dr Micheál Lehane, Director of the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection & Environmental Monitoring, said:
“Air pollution can seriously impact people’s health; the air quality forecast will provide an important health and air quality resource for everyone, and will be even more impactful for those of us who are particularly affected by poor air quality, including those suffering from respiratory disease and asthma. The forecast will also serve policy makers as a valuable tool for analysing air quality in Ireland.’’
There are concerning localised air quality issues in Ireland. Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from burning solid fuel and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from vehicle emissions are the main pollutants impacting on people’s health. This forecast will help people plan their activities in line with the Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH) recommendations, such as reducing physical activity when air pollution levels are predicted to increase. The forecast maps will be uploaded twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
The CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, Eilís Ní Chathnia, welcomed the forecast launch:
"The air quality forecast will be an important resource for our members and everyone with respiratory conditions. Ireland has the highest incidence rate of asthma in Europe with one in ten children and one in thirteen adults developing the condition - with 890,000 people likely to develop asthma in their lifetimes. The Asthma Society welcomes the opportunity to be associated with the launch of the forecast.’’
The forecast and further information on air quality and the Air Quality Index for Health are available on airquality.ie.
The air quality forecast maps are produced by computer models which have been developed under the EU LIFE Emerald project. The models use Irish and European data such as air quality measurements, forecast weather and land cover data. The EPA has partnered on this with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), the Health Service Executive (HSE), VITO, a Belgian research institute, University College Cork (UCC) and the Asthma Society of Ireland.
Sample air quality forecast map from www.airquality.ie
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
LIFE EMERALD Project
This work is co-funded through the EU LIFE Programme (LIFE19 GIE/IE/001101) and by the Environmental Protection Agency/ Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The three core deliverables from this project include an up to 3-day forecast, near real time mapping and detailed annual maps of atmospheric pollutants across the country. Partners include VITO (a Belgian research institute) the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), the Health Service Executive (HSE), University College Cork (UCC), and the Asthma Society of Ireland.
In addition to the air quality forecast, the project will deliver near-real-time (March 2024) and detailed annual air quality maps for the entire country (June 2024). All products will be available on www.airquality.ie. Find out more about LIFE Emerald on the project website.
Ambient air pollution: Ambient (outdoor) air pollution is recognised as a major environmental risk to health internationally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ambient air pollution accounts for an estimated 4 million deaths per year worldwide due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. In children and adults, both short- and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. Read more on the WHO website.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has estimated that there are more than 1,300 premature deaths annually in Ireland due to poor air quality from fine particulate matter (PM2.5). See: Air Quality in Ireland 2022
Air Quality Forecast
The forecast maps predict the daily air quality based on the Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH) for 3 days (today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow). These forecast maps are live and are updated twice daily (mornings and evenings). The maps are available online.
Values (1 to 10) presented for the air pollutants correspond to a point on the AQIH scale, these values are explained online. The AQIH for each pollutant is worked out separately, and the overall AQIH for each grid in the map represents the highest point for all air pollutants assessed. Air pollutants displayed include particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.
The web page allows you to toggle between the existing Monitoring Stations map and new Air Quality Forecast Maps. You can use two drop down menus to alternate between day of forecast and AQIH/pollutant for each day.
National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme
The EPA, working with local authorities and other public bodies, has established 115 ambient air quality monitoring stations nationwide. Monitoring data from these stations is available in real time on the website and the data is used to inform national policy, meet Ireland’s commitments to European reporting and is now used as one of the key inputs to the air quality forecast.