Concern over air pollution in Dublin

Some parts may exceed EU safety limits
  • Deborah Condon

Some parts of Dublin may have air pollution levels that exceed EU safety limits, a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revealed.

The report relates to nitrogen dioxide, which is largely caused by emissions from traffic. Levels of the pollutant have been rising due to an increasing number of vehicles on the roads.

According to the EPA, nitrogen dioxide can affect the throat and lungs, leading to conditions such as emphysema. Exposure to high levels over short periods of time can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma.

Longer exposure to elevated concentrations may contribute to the development of asthma and may increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.

The report states that some areas in Dublin now have high levels of nitrogen dioxide, with levels at the highest in urban traffic locations. It says that some areas are at risk of exceeding the EU's statutory limit for the pollutant.

Using a dispersion modeling and monitoring method, the EPA presents new evidence which suggests that nitrogen dioxide may exceed the annual EU limits in the following areas:
-Certain city centre streets
-The M50
-The entrance and exit of the Dublin Port Tunnel.

"This report outlines the findings of two recent studies, which suggest that levels of nitrogen dioxide in certain parts of Dublin are exceeding the EU limit value. Given the known health impacts on people's respiratory systems, this is a cause of concern.

"Traffic is the dominant source in our urban areas and the public must be supported in taking clean transport choices if we want to reduce nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the air we breathe," commented EPA programme manager, Dr Ciara McMahon.

However, the report also points out that levels of nitrogen dioxide are well within the EU limits in many residential areas, as away from busy roads, levels of the pollutant drop significantly.

The EPA added that if further studies confirm that levels of nitrogen dioxide have been exceeded in some areas, local authorities in Dublin and its suburbs will be required to prepare air quality action plans for the Dublin area.

The report can be viewed here.


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