Air Pollution Rates

Air Pollution and Health Warnings
Courtesy EPA

Ireland’s current air quality is good, relative to other European Union (EU) Member States, but maintaining these standards is of increasing concern. Despite our monitored air quality being within EU limit values, the levels of particulate matter is an increasing challenge, particularly during winter months when domestic solid fuel burning can directly affect air quality and our health. In larger urban areas we face potential breaches of nitrogen dioxide limit values unless we reduce our dependence on private motor car travel.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than 400,000 premature deaths are attributable to poor air quality in Europe annually. In Ireland, the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution is estimated at 1,200 people and is mainly due to cardiovascular disease. The WHO has therefore described air pollution as the ‘single biggest environmental health risk’.

Ireland Air Quality

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages the quality of air in Ireland using the Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH). This index categorises the quality of air into Good, Fair, Poor or Very Poor based on concentrations of five air pollutants which can be harmful to health (Ozone gas, Nitrogen dioxide gas, Sulphur dioxide gas, PM2.5 particles and PM10 particles). The AIQH is a number from 1 to 10 that tells you what the air quality currently is in a region and whether or not this might affect the health of you or your child. A reading of 10 means air quality is very poor and a reading of 1 to 3 inclusive means that the air quality is good. The AQIH is calculated every hour in various locations nationwide. You can see the current readings on the AQIH map.

Using the AQIH can help you better protect the health of you or your child, particularly if either of you are very sensitive to air pollution. The AQIH health advice messages are messages to help you and your family better manage your health. This gives health messages for individuals who are sensitive to air pollution (at risk) and for the general population. The EPA provides a very useful and user-friendly facility to map environmental and well-being issues nationally, including additional Clean Air and Health Measures which can be accessed here.

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