Air Quality in Ireland 2010

Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality

Summary: Ambient air quality trends based on concentration measurements in 2010 of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, black smoke, heavy metals, ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and benzene.

Published: 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84095-420-3

Pages: 60

Filesize: 1,709KB

Format: pdf

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This report provides an overview of air quality in Ireland for 2010, based on data obtained from the 28 monitoring stations that form the national ambient air quality network, including data from a number of mobile air quality monitoring units. Monitoring stations are located across the country, with new stations added in 2010 in Longford Town and Celbridge in County Kildare.

The results of the monitoring are compared to limit values set out in EU and Irish legislation on ambient air quality.

Overall, air quality in Ireland continues to be of good quality and remains the best in Europe. In 2010, measured values of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), heavy metals, benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were all below limit and target values set out in the CAFE Directive and 4th Daughter Directive.

However, levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) continue to remain of concern and levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are a possible concern for the future in some areas. PAH arise from domestic fuel burning and vehicle exhaust emissions. Traffic is the primary source of nitrogen dioxide and is also one of the main sources of particulate matter.

 Domestic solid fuel use is the other main source of particulate matter in air in Ireland and particularly impacts air quality in areas where the sale of bituminous coal is permitted. As a result, levels of particulate matter in smaller towns are similar or higher than those in cities, where bituminous coal is banned. As such it is important to note the impact that the choice in domestic heating fuel can have on the environment and air quality. To help with this, from 2011 the government is enforcing a regulation that will require that all bituminous coal placed on the market in Ireland for residential use has a sulphur content of no more than 0.7%.

To maintain our good standard of air quality and ensure that in the future our air will be healthy and clean, Ireland must continue to implement and enforce the ban on bituminous coal. We must also reduce traffic emissions through reducing travel demand, emphasising sustainable transport modes such as cycling, walking and public transport and improving the efficiency of motorised transport.

In April and May of 2010, the EPA’s air quality monitoring network was used to assess the impact on health and the environment of the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. It was found that this incident had no impact on ambient air quality in Ireland.

Information on real-time air quality. This provides members of the public with direct access to current levels of pollutants from relevant fixed stations across Ireland.

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