Experts act to monitor degraded air quality in Cork city

Areas reaching hazardous levels comparable with those found in London, research shows

Air pollution is responsible for over 1,650 premature deaths in Ireland every year.  File photograph: Getty Images

Air pollution is responsible for over 1,650 premature deaths in Ireland every year. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Deteriorating air quality in Cork city has led to a monitoring station being installed.

Recent research conducted by University College Cork indicates that air quality in parts of the city can reach harmful particulate levels similar to those found in London.

Air pollution is responsible for 1,660 premature deaths in Ireland every year. “For those who suffer from asthma and other chronic breathing or cardio difficulties, any real-time early-warning information about air quality may prove life saving,” according to Prof Andy Ruth of UCC Environmental Research Institute (ERI).

The university has invested more than €65,000 in an atmospheric monitoring station through its Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry and in partnership with the ERI, he said. The facility will be run in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and Met Éireann.

Prominent air pollutants ozone and nitrogen dioxide will be monitored continuously, along with fine dust particles (particulate matter) invisible to the eye.

“All are known to negatively impact on human health especially [on] the old and young, said Prof Ruth.

Roadside stations, urban sites, and rural locations are all included in the expanded network while partnership with local authorities and third-level institutions will be crucial to the management and maintenance of these facilities throughout the country.

Speaking at the opening of the facility on Monday, Prof John Sodeau, founding director of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry said: “Our own health and wellbeing depend upon the health of the atmosphere. Unless we monitor air pollutants accurately and in real time we simply cannot diagnose the extent to which life-changing effects like heart failure, stroke and cancer will occur. This is as true for Cork as it is for the rest of the world.”