Illegal air pollution detected in Ireland for first time in decade

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Digital Desk staff

Ireland's environment watchdog has reported illegal levels of air pollution to regulators at the European Commission for the first time in over a decade.

Cars in Kilmainham, Dublin were found to have pushed nitrogen dioxide levels in the area over the legal European limit throughout last year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The group’s annual Air Quality Report 2019 launched today found that air pollutants were above the World Health Organisation’s guideline values for health at 33 monitoring stations across Ireland.

Dr Ciara McMahon, Director of the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection & Environmental Monitoring, said the poor air quality is a health hazard.

The choices we make affect the levels of pollution in the air we breathe, which in turn affects the health of our lungs, heart and other organs.

“Ireland is renowned for its countryside and clean fresh air, but we can no longer take this for granted,” she said.

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“Poor air quality impacts people’s health and quality of life, so it is now time to tackle the two key issues that impact negatively on air quality in Ireland – transport emissions in large urban areas and emissions from burning of solid fuels in our cities, towns and villages.”

The EPA said the elevated levels of air pollution found across the country are mostly as a result of the burning of solid fuel in cities, towns and villages.

While the group’s report found that air quality in Ireland was “generally good,” it said there were “worrying” localised issues.

It comes as there are 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland per year which can be attributed to air pollution, according to latest estimates.

“The choices we make affect the levels of pollution in the air we breathe, which in turn affects the health of our lungs, heart and other organs,” Dr McMahon said.

“We need to decarbonise our public transport system and in general reduce our reliance on diesel and petrol-powered vehicles. Moving to cleaner ways of heating our homes will also significantly improve air quality across Ireland.”

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