June 5th, 2019
Today marks World Environment Day 2019 and the theme this year is air pollution. The Green News looks at some of the key stresses in Ireland.
EPA report on air quality shows that Ireland is consistently above the WHO
Air Quality Guideline value for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
This pollutant has been highlighted as
having the greatest
negative impact on the health
of the Irish population – responsible for 1,100 of a total
1,150 premature deaths in 2015.
The predominant source of this pollution arises
from the use of solid fuels such as coal, peat and wood for home heating.
This heavy reliance on solid fuels is something
that the EPA has described as needing “crucial”
change and a move towards cleaner fuels.
The EPA predicts that energy industry emissions
will “grow strongly” from 2020-2025 as a direct result of peat and biomass fuel
The ban on smoky coal introduced to the capital in
1990 vastly improved air quality, reportedly reducing chronic respiratory disease
mortality by 16 per cent.
Plans for a national ban, however, are currently delayed
following legal threats from the coal industry, as revealed by The
Irish Times in April.
EPA data released to The Times this week revealed that 84 air pollution breaches were recorded at monitoring stations across so far this year compared with 17 for the whole of 2018.
Other Air Pollutants
Rising ammonia emissions from the agricultural
sector is another one of Ireland’s biggest issues when it comes to air
In 2017, ammonia emissions increased by 2 per cent
and the EPA projects that they will rise continuously up to 2030 and onwards.
Animal manures produce 90 per cent of Ireland’s
ammonia emissions while chemical fertilizers and road transport account for the
Another pollutant that Ireland is fast approaching
the EU limit for is nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
The majority of this pollution exists in urban
areas, coming from the transport section.
According to Ireland’s Project 2040 plan, no
non-zero emission vehicles will be sold after 2030 and there will be half a
million electric vehicles on the road by that same year.
World Environment Day
It is estimated by the World Health Organisation
(WHO) that seven million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution
according to the
As part of the #BeatAirPollution campaign, the UN
is calling on all members of the public to do a Mask Challenge and:
- Commit to an action for clean air
(planting trees or commuting without polluting etc);
- Share a mask selfie and tag three
friends/organisations challenging them to do the same;
a photo or video of themselves completing their commitment and tag
@UNEnvironment with the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatAirPollution.
By Marianne Foody