Poor air quality contributes to 3,400 premature deaths and costs Ireland up to €6.3 billion a year, according to An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland.
“The figures forEuropeas a whole are frightening,” says James Nix, Policy Director with An Taisce. “420,000 premature deaths and up to €790 billion in economic costs due to poor air quality.”
The Trust has written to Phil Hogan TD, the Minister of the Environment, and James Reilly TD, the Minister of Health, asking them to work to reform EU law on air pollution, gaps in which lead to unnecessarily high levels of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.
“We’re fully familiar with the consequences of weak legislation and poor regulation in the financial sector; when it comes to protecting people from air pollution – particularly the very young and elderly – the fallout is even more stark,” notes James Nix.
The high financial burden for Ireland of €6.3 billion annually, is due to days lost in work and education, as well as the direct health costs.
Traffic is the main culprit, points out An Taisce, which says Ireland needs to focus on reducing pollutants from diesel cars, buses and trucks.
While progress has been made, Ireland remains in ongoing breach of EU law because of traffic-induced nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are implicated in asthma and other respiratory conditions.
An Taisce is advocating thatIrelandavoids long-term breach of EU law on NOx, and says that a failure to tackle traffic-derived air pollution over time will cost Ireland dearly in the longer run.
Since the mid-1970s Ireland failed to regulate septic tanks and is now being fined €12,000 per day until a system is put in place to reduce the danger to public health and the environment, including our rivers, lakes and drinking water supplies. Ireland must act now to avoid getting into a similar situation with this breach of EU Law, says An Taisce.