Air pollution in Dublin is rising

Ireland is on course to exceed its legally binding EU emissions target by the year 2020 according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

While Dublin is currently considered to be of high standard in relation to the air quality of other European cities there are issues arising in the capital in relation to vehicle emissions.

“In urban areas [Ireland is] approaching EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide which is a pollutant released from vehicle exhausts, this is a consequence of our continued reliance on the private motor car for transport,” said Niamh Hatchell of the EPA.

Approximately 400,000 premature deaths can be attributed to poor air quality in Europe each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In Ireland, it is estimated that an average of 1,200 premature deaths is attributable to air quality with the WHO describing the issue as the “single biggest environmental health risk.”

“Long-term exposure to high levels of background [nitrogen oxides] is considered by the scientific and medical communities to be [damaging] to…human health,” explains Dr Stephen Daniels of DCU Engineering.

“The majority of the gas pollutions [in the air] can affect the airways and pollutants can increase the susceptibility to throat and respiratory infections,” said Dr Daniels.

“Ireland has the highest rate of hospitalisation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),” according to Damien Peelo, Executive Director of COPD Support Ireland.

COPD is a term used to describe progressive lung diseases.

“A key contributor to the quality of life and the management of the disease is the clean air that we breathe. People with COPD are deeply affected by the quality of the air in our cities and towns, it can mean the difference between being able to get out and be active or stay at home,” said Peelo.

“Being active is vital for people with COPD and poor air quality can lead to inactivity which in turn can lead to further deterioration of the lungs…We need to ensure that our monitoring and treatment of the air we breathe is to the highest standards possible so all of us are protecting a vital organ, the lungs.”

Dublin City Council has operated air monitoring stations across the city. They offered no comment on the matter.

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