‘Major Challenge’ ahead for Ireland to meet WHO air quality standards

The Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report on air quality was published this week and the findings are mixed. While air quality in Ireland “compares favourably” with many other European countries, there are localised issues that are negatively impacting on air quality in a way that the EPA describes as “concerning”. 

According to the EPA  report, Ireland met all of its legal air quality limits  for pollutants in 2021. This includes particulate matter (PM), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulphur dioxide. Of these, fine particulate matter, which is mainly caused by burning solid fuel in people’s homes, and nitrogen dioxide or vehicle emissions have been flagged by the EPA as the main threats to air quality. The health implications of poor air quality include respiratory challenges, heart problems, and cancer. The health risks increase for those living in urban areas, within greater proximity to industrial emissions, residential emissions and continual traffic emissions. In more rural locations, the burning of solid fuels is the most pressing threat to health. 

Globally, there is a growing awareness of the importance of air quality and the negative health implications of poor air quality on human health. The European Environment Agency estimates that poor air quality contributes to 1,300 deaths in Ireland each year. The Sonitus Systems’ team have worked closely with the EPA over the past decade through the development and maintenance of https://airquality.ie/. This website empowers residents and visitors to understand the quality of the air locally, which helps people to make informed decisions to protect their health and that of their families. 

For further information on how European cities are tackling air quality issues, click here: https://www.sonitussystems.com/insights/tackling-air-quality-and-noise-pollution-across-european-cities/ 

It is worth noting that the World Health Organisation, or WHO, has recommended air quality guidelines that exceed the standards set by the EU Air Quality Directive in terms of  lower limits and more ambitious targets. These standards are likely to be revised and enhanced under the European Green Deal, placing a higher burden on counties and cities to improve the quality of their air.  More stringent measures involve the publication and implementation of a National Clean Air Strategy, greater investment in clean transport, and increased enforcement powers for local authorities to address air quality breaches. According to this latest EPA report,  meeting the more stringent WHO air quality guidelines would be a “major challenge” for Ireland.

Sonitus Systems offers both the hardware and software for a range of environmental parameters on a continual basis, with real-time information available through our Sonitus Cloud dashboard. For more details on our indoor and outdoor noise and air quality monitoring products and services, please contact the team at https://www.sonitussystems.com/contact-us