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The Environmental Protection Agency manages the ambient air quality monitoring network.
In order to protect our health, vegetation and ecosystems, EU directives set down air quality standards in Ireland and the other member states for a wide variety of pollutants. These rules include how we should monitor, assess and manage ambient air quality.
The European Commission set down the principles to this approach in 1996 with its Air Quality Framework Directive. Four "daughter" directives lay down limits for specific pollutants:
The Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe (CAFE) Directive (2008/50/EC) was published in May 2008. It replaced the Framework Directive and the first, second and third Daughter Directives. The fourth Daughter Directive (2004/107/EC) will be included in CAFE at a later stage. The limit and target values for both Directives are outlined below.
The CAFE Directive was transposed into Irish legislation by the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 180 of 2011). It replaces the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 271 of 2002), the Ozone in Ambient Air Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 53 of 2004) and S.I. No. 33 of 1999.
The fourth Daughter Directive was transponsed into Irish legislation by the Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Nickel and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Ambient Air Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 58 of 2009).
The following tables show the limit or target values specified by the five published directives that set down limits for specific air pollutants. The directives cover:
Check the bottom of this article for explanations of the abbreviations used.
Limit values of CAFE Directive 2008/50/EC
The public must be informed if the following thresholds are exceeded for three consecutive hours.
The public must be informed if ozone levels exceed the following thresholds
Target Value ng/m3
Nitrogen dioxide 1 ppb = 1.91 ug/m3 Sulphur dioxide 1 ppb = 2.66 ug/m3 Ozone 1 ppb = 2.0 ug/m3 Carbon monoxide 1 ppb = 1.16 ug/m3 Benzene 1 ppb = 3.24 ug/m3
The following is a worked example:
Conversion factors from ppb to ug/m3
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