Ireland’s ‘Clean Air Together’ Project Fighting Traffic Pollution

clean air together

Ireland’s ‘Clean Air Together’ Project Fighting Traffic Pollution

Traffic congestion is a massive annoyance for everyone, but pollution from traffic is an even bigger concern. As cities grow, traffic-related pollutants like Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) can pose serious health risks. Keep reading to learn how Ireland’s ‘Clean Air Together’ project aims to tackle this issue.

 

The Goals of the Clean Air Together Project

Clean Air Together is a nationwide project encouraging volunteers to measure Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in their local areas. This initiative aims to raise awareness and gather data to help improve air quality. Led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and in partnership with An Taisce and local authorities, Clean Air Together aims to understand NO2 pollution better and influence policies to reduce NO2 levels. Results have recently been published following NO2 measurements taken in Galway City. This follows similar successful campaigns in Dublin and Cork City. In addition, the project will move to Limerick City in 2024.

 

What is Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)?

NO2 is mainly a traffic-related pollutant. NO2 can cause respiratory issues, especially in people with asthma and other lung diseases. Long-term exposure increases the risk of respiratory infections in children. NO2 also affects the environment by contributing to acid rain and acting as a greenhouse gas. As such, a NO2 measurement of 40 µg/m3 in a given area breaches the EU air quality limit. NO2 levels can be influenced by:

  • Traffic: Busier roads have higher NO2 levels.
  • Weather: Wind can disperse pollutants, and warm days can increase NO2 levels.
  • Ventilation: Narrow streets with tall buildings can trap pollutants more than wide, open streets.

 

NO2 Levels in Dublin, Cork & Galway

The results from each major Irish city where a Clean Air Together project has taken place are shown below. As expected, in Dublin, Cork and Galway, the highest NO2 levels (20 μg/m3 – 40 μg/m3+) were found by busy roads and in the city centres. Lower levels of NO2 (0 μg/m3 – 20 μg/m3) were found moving outwards to the suburbs and countryside of the counties.

NO2 levels in Irish Counties

The highest levels of NO2 in each county were as follows:

Cork

  • Lower Glanmire Road and MacCurtain Street
  • Commons Road, Leitrim Street and Carroll’s Quay
  • South Link Road

 

Dublin

  • Pearse Street by Trinity College Dublin
  • Roads by Connolly and Heuston stations
  • The Malahide and Botanic roads, Dorset Street, the Swords, Donnybrook, and Crumlin roads
  • The Quays (north and south of the Liffey)
  • The M50, especially near the Palmerstown and Blanchardstown interchanges

 

Galway

  • Dock Road (+40 µg/m3)
  • Merchants Road
  • Mary Street
  • Along Eyre Square and Briarhill/N6
  • Eglinton Street

 

The very high levels of NO2 along Dock Road have prompted a larger-scale investigation of traffic-related pollution. Galway City Council is leading the additional study with assistance from the EPA. Sampling commenced in February 2024 and will run for a year.

 

How to Reduce NO2 levels

Dublin, Cork and Galway all have areas of high (or even excessively high) NO2 levels. Considering the adverse health effects of NO2 exposure, measures to reduce NO2 levels are important for each county. Such measures can be government actions or individual lifestyle changes.

Government Actions:

  • Building more cycle lanes and footpaths.
  • Investing in clean public transport and low-emission zones.
  • Promoting the 15-minute city concept which aims to create communities where people can access key amenities by travelling no more than 15 minutes on foot or by bike.
  • Increasing the availability of electric vehicle charging stations.

 

Lifestyle Changes:

  • Reduce car journeys and opt for walking or cycling.
  • Use public transport when possible.
  • Support flexible working arrangements to reduce road traffic.
  • Consider buying an electric vehicle.
  • Purchase local goods to minimise pollution from transportation

 

Conclusion for the Clean Air Together Project

The Clean Air Together project demonstrates the power of community involvement in environmental monitoring. By providing detailed snapshots of NO2 levels, the project can highlight areas of concern and inform future actions to improve air quality in Irish cities. Southern Scientific can also help by offering air monitoring programmes and environmental consultancy. Together, we can work to tackle air pollution and take a step towards a cleaner, healthier environment for Ireland.

 

Learn more about our environmental and testing consultancy services here!

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