The air quality in Letterkenny is rated number one (Good) on the EPA’s index today.
The town has been a ‘low smoke zone’ since May 2013, which means that the burning of smoky coal is banned in Letterkenny town and its environs.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today called for Ireland and Europe to move towards achieving the health-based WHO air quality guidelines. The EPA’s annual air quality report Air Quality in Ireland 2021 shows that, while air quality in Ireland is generally good and compares favourably with many of our European neighbours, there are concerning localised issues which lead to poor air quality.
While Ireland met EU legal air quality limits in 2021, it did not meet the health-based World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines for a number of pollutants including: particulate matter (PM), nitrogen Dioxide (N02), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3) due to the burning of solid fuel in our towns and villages and traffic in our cities.
Poor air quality has a negative impact on people’s health and there are an estimated 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland per year due to particulate matter in our air. Air monitoring results in 2021 from EPA stations across Ireland show that fine particulate matter (PM2.5), mainly from burning solid fuel in our homes, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) mainly from road traffic, remain the main threats to good air quality.
Launching the report, Air Quality in Ireland 2021, Dr Micheál Lehane, Director of the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection & Environmental Monitoring, said: “The EPA’s air quality monitoring carried out in 2021 has shown that Ireland met all of its EU legal requirements in 2021. However, we would not have met the new WHO air quality guidelines for health. Meeting the new WHO guidelines for air quality will be a major challenge for the country, however the report identifies a number of solutions to move towards these guideline levels’’.
In the report the EPA states that:
- Ireland and Europe should move towards achieving the health-based WHO air quality guidelines.
- The planned National Clean Air Strategy for Ireland needs to be published and fully implemented.
- Local Authorities must provide more resources to increase air enforcement activities.
- National investment in clean public transport is needed across the country.