Air Quality

Air pollution has a profound effect on our well-being and on the health of much of the flora and fauna on our planet.   Hence it is important to be aware of the quality of the air that we breathe.

Air is made up of a number of gases, mostly nitrogen and oxygen and in varying smaller amounts; water vapour, carbon dioxide, and argon. Air quality is calculated by monitoring the levels of pollutants.

In Ireland our levels of air pollution are well below some of our more industrialised European neighbours but there is still room for improvement. 'Pure Air' that has no impurities whatsoever is a very rare thing to find even in the most remote parts of the world, which have no medium or heavy industry, mining, heavy traffic or population.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates show 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 1,510 people and is mainly due to cardiovascular disease" (EPA, 2020).

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) monitors a range of atmospheric pollutants including:

  • Ozone
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
  • Benzene (C6H6)
  • Lead  (Pb)
  • PAH (Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons)
  • Arsenic (As)
  • Nickel (Ni)
  • Mercury (Hg)

Investigate air quality in Ireland yourself using this interactive map tool.

Transboundary Air Pollution

Air pollution doesn't stay in the one place. The pollutants can easily get caught up in the wind and be blown from region to region. This poses problems when attempting to reduce air pollution in one country and has led to joint policies being created between Governments in order to address the issue.

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