How Can We Reduce Them?
Generally, air quality in Ireland remains good. The pollutant of most concern is PM10, as our daily mean levels are close to the EU limit value. We can do a number of things, however, to reduce this air pollution.
What you can do:
- Switch from smoky fuel to 'smokeless fuel' (average levels of PM10 are higher in small towns than in cities, due to higher use of solid fuel for domestic heating).
- Switching to gas, oil or electricity for home heating.
- Using less petrol by switching to public transport, use of bicycles, walking, or carpool where possible.
- Do not burn household waste (term used is backyard burning); instead dispose of it properly.
- If you have to use cars, have them serviced regularly and emissions checked.
- Look out for cars with low emissions that also have cheaper Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and cheaper annual motor tax.
- Choose air friendly products when painting.
- Use a push or electric lawn mower.
- Turn off lights when you leave the room. Power stations pollute the air so the less you use the less they contribute
- Wash only full loads of laundry or dishes.
- Boil only enough water for what you need instead of a kettle full for one cup of tea.
- Turn air conditioners / heaters off after use or try not to use them as much.
- Add trees or plants to areas surrounding your house if possible.
- Buy locally grown products. This cuts down your carbon footprint as the produce you buy doesn't have to be flown half way across the world.
Keeping the air inside your home as pollutant free as possible is as important to your health as it is to the environment. It can help reduce allergies and asthma.
- Don't smoke. If someone must smoke, send them outdoors.
- Use safer products, such as baking soda instead of harsher cleaners.
- Keep fresh air circulating in your home as it can help get rid of any bad household fumes.
- Use a damp rag to dust, so as to not to stir up dust from one place to another.
- Clean regularly - keeping a clean house is one good way to keep your air clean.
- Buy some naturally air-cleaning houseplants - Chinese Evergreens and Aloe Vera plants are great for this.
Reducing sulphur dioxide
On an EU level, the European Communities Act (1972) Regulations 2011 sets down environmental specifications for petrol, diesel fuels and gas oils for use by non-road mobile machinery, including inland waterway vessels, agricultural and forestry tractors, and recreational craft. Gas oil is commonly referred to as ‘green diesel’ as it contains a green dye to distinguish it from ‘road diesel’ and it has a slightly lower specification. Road diesel is already at the 10 ppm level of sulphur, although under the Directive 2009/30/EC the fuel specification for road diesel has been updated to allow suppliers to blend biofuels up to a level of 7% sulphur.
As noted above, since 1st January 2011 gas oil marketed for non-road mobile machinery has a limit of 10 ppm of sulphur. While gas oil used for home heating, marine fuel or production of stationary continues to have the original limit of 1,000 ppm, this move to reduce sulphur in the atmosphere is of great benefit to the environment.
Reducing Sulphur Dioxide from ships
Within the EU, ships are one of the highest sources of sulphur dioxide. Part of the EU strategy to reduce air pollution from ships is Directive 2005/33/EC. In particular, this Directive limits by mass the sulphur content:
- In marine fuels used by passenger vessels on regular services to or from ports within the EU to 1.5%
- In marine fuels used by ships at berth to 0.1%
- Of marine diesel oils sold in the EU to 0.1%
- Of marine gas oils sold in the EU to 0.1%
Regulations to transpose this Directive came into effect in 2008. These regulations were amended in 2011 to exclude gas oil for use in non-road mobile machinery. A report published in 2018 outlines the current state of affairs.
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