Air Quality in Ireland is amongst the best in Europe

Date released: Sep 26 2012

  • EPA Report Air Quality in Ireland 2011 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality released today.
  • 2011 air quality monitoring shows:
  • Air quality in Ireland is amongst the best in Europe and met all EU standards.
  • Due to traffic, levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) remain a concern in Dublin and Cork city centres.
  • In smaller towns, concentrations of particulate matter are elevated due to the use of bituminous (smoky) coal.
  • Ireland is required to reduce exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 10% between 2012 and 2020.
  • Real-time air quality information for Ireland is available on the EPA website.

The EPA report Air Quality In Ireland 2011 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality released today shows that air quality in Ireland is generally of a high standard across the country and is among the best in Europe.  This is due largely to prevailing Atlantic airflows, relatively few large cities and the lack of widespread heavy industries.  However, Ireland faces a number of challenges in the near future when trying to meet our obligations under EU legislation.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide in traffic-impacted city centre areas will continue to be a problem due to the difficulty in achieving large-scale reductions in road traffic numbers. Emissions from residential solid fuel use contribute to high levels of particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in villages, towns and cities.

Based on particulate matter concentrations for 2009-2011, Ireland is required to reduce exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 10% between 2012 and 2020. This challenging reduction will require an integrated approach across a number of sectors including industrial, transport and residential emissions.

Micheal O Cinneide, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Assessment, explained the challenges that lie ahead for Ireland’s air quality.

“Whilst we welcome the findings of this report today, which show Ireland’s air quality is generally of a high standard, we recognise also that Ireland faces a number of challenges to meet our EU obligations.  In this regard, we welcome the new legislation which introduces, for the first time, a prohibition on the burning of smoky coal, complementing the existing ban on the marketing, sale and distribution. The European Environment Agency report published earlier this week highlighted how important air quality is to the health of our citizens, and we hope that these new regulations will assist in maintaining Ireland’s good standard of air quality and ensure that in the future our air will be healthy and clean."

The EPA report also highlights how households and businesses should strive to reduce the demand for energy consumption through the use of more efficient methods to burn fuel and a shift from solid fuel to cleaner alternatives - including gas, or other low-emission fuels and the use of efficient stoves to burn solid fuel. We must also reduce traffic emissions through implementing policies to reduce travel demand, increase the use of alternatives to the private car such as cycling, walking and public transport and improve the efficiencies of motorised transport.

The Air Quality in Ireland 2011 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality report, available in both English and Irish, can be found on the EPA website.

The EPA continually monitors air quality across Ireland and provides real-time results on the website.  Results are updated hourly on the website, and you can log on at any time to check whether the current air quality in your locality is good, fair or poor.


Further information: Niamh Hatchell/Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office:

053-91 70770 (24 hours) and



Notes to Editor:

This report provides an overview of air quality in Ireland for 2011, based on data obtained from the 29 monitoring stations that form the national ambient air quality network. This includes the following pollutants: nitrogen oxides; sulphur dioxide; carbon monoxide; ozone; particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5 and black smoke); benzene and volatile organic compounds; heavy metals; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The national ambient air quality network is coordinated and managed by the EPA, as the National Reference Laboratory for Air Quality. Monitoring stations are located across the country, with new stations added in 2011 in Shannon Town, Co. Clare and Claremorris, Co. Mayo.

In 2011, measured values of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and benzene were all below limit and target values set out in the CAFE Directive and 4th Daughter Directive.  

The results of the monitoring are compared to limit values set out in EU and Irish legislation on ambient air quality with map-based assessments included.