Pollution caused by traffic in Dublin is a risk to health and exceeds EU limits, a report has said. The Republic of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency found nitrogen dioxide levels were too high on busier city centre streets, the M50 motorway and around the Dublin Port Tunnel. If the findings were confirmed, local authorities would have to prepare air quality action plans. This would include cutting the number of polluting vehicles in the centre. Transport Minister Shane Ross and Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton expressed “grave concern” about the findings.
What is the danger?
Diesel vehicles produce much higher nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions than other combustion engines, especially for older vehicles. Gases like NO2 and tiny particles, known as particulate matter or PM, can reach deep into the body with the danger of causing lasting damage. The most obvious effects are on our breathing – anyone suffering from asthma, for example, is more likely to be at risk, because dirty air can cause chronic problems and also trigger an attack. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nitrogen dioxide. A joint statement said the EPA’s Urban Environmental Indicators report showed the importance of implementing the government’s Climate Action Plan. This includes having 180,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2025 and cutting the public transport system’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Other actions include rolling out 200km of new cycle lanes in Dublin and the development of a new park and ride strategy for Dublin Mr Bruton added: “Reaching 70% renewable electricity and electrifying our private and public transport fleets will have a huge impact on air quality in our towns and cities “We will now convene the relevant bodies to ensure we take immediate action on this matter and improve the air quality in Dublin.”