Air Quality in Ireland 2020
Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality.
Summary of ambient air quality in 2020 based on concentration measurements of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, heavy metals, ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and benzene.
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How was Air Quality in Ireland in 2020?
- Air quality in Ireland is compliant with legislation however there are localised issues – most notably particulate matter from the burning of solid fuel.
- Ireland was above World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines for particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone at 52 monitoring sites across the country.
- The travel restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19 had a positive impact on air pollution in our urban areas with up to 50% reductions in traffic pollution.
What are the problem pollutants?
- Particulate matter from the domestic burning of solid fuel – is estimated to cause 1,300 premature deaths per year.
- Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from transport emissions fell in 2020, however if we return to pre-COVID traffic levels and if long-term changes are not made to our modes or patterns of transport it will lead to future exceedances in our urban areas.
- Ireland was above the European Environment Agency reference level for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a toxic chemical, at 4 monitoring sites due to the burning of solid fuel.
What should be done?
- To tackle the problem of particulate matter:
- Move away from domestic burning of solid fuel (coal, wood, peat) towards cleaner ways of heating our homes like heat-pump technology.
- Implement the Government’s proposed nationwide smoky fuel ban in 2022 which will facilitate people to make clean air choices.
- To reduce the impact of NO2:
- Publish (by the end of 2021) and implement an air quality action plan for Dublin to protect health.
- Implement the transport options (clean public transport and increasing the use of electric vehicles) as identified in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.
- Avoid reverting to pre-COVID traffic levels, maintain pedestrianisation of our urban areas and continue to improve our cycling infrastructure.