Air Quality in Ireland is Amongst the Best in Europe

The just released EPA report ‘Air Quality In Ireland 2011 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality’ shows that air quality in Ireland is generally of a high standard across the country and is among the best in Europe. This is due largely to prevailing Atlantic airflows, relatively few large cities and the lack of widespread heavy industries. However, Ireland faces a number of challenges in the near future when trying to meet our obligations under EU legislation.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide in traffic-impacted city centre areas will continue to be a problem due to the difficulty in achieving large-scale reductions in road traffic numbers. Emissions from residential solid fuel use contribute to high levels of particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in villages, towns and cities.

Based on particulate matter concentrations for 2009-2011, Ireland is required to reduce exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 10% between 2012 and 2020. This challenging reduction will require an integrated approach across a number of sectors including industrial, transport and residential emissions.

Micheal O Cinneide, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Assessment, comments: “Whilst we welcome the findings of this report, which show Ireland’s air quality is generally of a high standard, we recognise also that Ireland faces a number of challenges to meet our EU obligations. In this regard, we welcome the new legislation which introduces, for the first time, a prohibition on the burning of smoky coal, complementing the existing ban on the marketing, sale and distribution. The European Environment Agency report published earlier this week highlighted how important air quality is to the health of our citizens, and we hope that these new regulations will assist in maintaining Ireland’s good standard of air quality and ensure that in the future our air will be healthy and clean.”

The EPA report also highlights how households and businesses should strive to reduce the demand for energy consumption through the use of more efficient methods to burn fuel and a shift from solid fuel to cleaner alternatives – including gas, or other low-emission fuels and the use of efficient stoves to burn solid fuel. We must also reduce traffic emissions through implementing policies to reduce travel demand, increase the use of alternatives to the private car such as cycling, walking and public transport and improve the efficiencies of motorised transport.

The Air Quality in Ireland 2011 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality report, available in both English and Irish, can be found on the EPA website at http://www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/air/quality/ .

Posted in Emissions, Featured News

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