Traffic and coal remain threat to Irish air quality

Traffic pollution and coal are the main threat to Ireland's air quality which is otherwise good, a new report concludes.

The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, Air Quality in Ireland 2008, finds air quality across the country is good and meets all European Union (EU) standards for pollutants.

The EPA's programme manager, Dr Ciaran O' Donnell, said: "Our results for 2008 show that air quality in Ireland remains good, however it can be improved further by reducing local emissions.

"Traffic and smoky fuel are the two main factors adversely affecting air quality in Ireland.

"The EPA asks the public to consider the environmental effects of their choice of domestic fuel and mode of transport."

The main pollutants recorded in 2008 were nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) - a major air pollutant made up of tiny or liquid particles from soot, dust, smoke, fumes and other sources.

Nitrogen dioxide levels were highest in urbanised areas due mainly to traffic density, the report released last Tuesday (29 September) found.

Meanwhile, the air quality in smaller towns suffered from the continued use of smoky or bituminous coal - a soft type of coal that burns with a smoky, yellow flame - which results in raised PM10 levels.

Burning fossil fuels such as coal is a major pollution factor.

Ireland banned bituminous coal in Dublin in 1990 extending it across the country, including Cork, Arklow, Drogheda, Dundalk, Limerick and Wexford, Celbridge, Galway, Leixlip, Naas and Waterford, Bray, Kilkenny, Sligo and Tralee.

It is now banned in all Irish cities and large towns reportedly resulting in greatly reduced levels of PM10 levels

The report results are based on data from 30 stations around the country, producing hourly or daily data as required by EU directives on air quality.

The highest mean value of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide were recorded in Dublin.
People can log on to the EPA website ( to check if their air quality is good, fair or poor.

To read the report, Air Quality in Ireland 2008 - Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality click here here.

David Gibbs


air quality | transport


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