This week the Asthma Society of Ireland is highlighting the significant failings in the monitoring of air quality in Ireland.
The 2015 Clean Air Campaign was launched in the College of Medicine and Health Science, UCC, where one of the main concerns being highlighted was the number of counties across Ireland with no air monitoring station, including Westmeath, home to 8,444 asthmatics.
The campaign highlights the fact that Ireland is falling behind European standards and despite 4.7 million people living here we only have 31 monitoring sites, compared to Northern Ireland with a population of 1.7 million people and 20 sites.
Westmeath has no physical air monitoring station located within its county boundaries. Though the EPA does carry out a modelling process to calculate the county’s air quality, the Asthma Society feels this is wholly inadequate when it comes to protecting people’s health and for detecting a problem with air quality at any given time. When it comes to real-time (within the hour ) monitoring, international comparisons become even more stark. There are only three monitoring stations in the country capable of reporting real-time concentrations of the standard parameters for particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM10. The nearest one to Westmeath is located in Dublin.
Fianna Fail Councillor Aengus O’Rourke, who supports the campaign said: “As an asthma sufferer myself I am very aware of the quality of the air around me and the problems that asthma suffers like me face when air quality is compromised. We as a country could and should be doing more to keep our air clean.”
The Clean Air Campaign 2015 is calling on everyone in Westmeath to take action and sign a petition asking all political parties to prioritise air quality policy in the run-up to and following the General Election by logging onto www.asthma.ie The petition calls for three commitments - To implement the nationwide smoky coal ban as soon as possible; to expand the air monitoring network to every county in the country; and to draft new clean air legislation to the World Health Organisation’s air quality standards to make Ireland a world leader in tackling air pollution.
For further information about the campaign visit the asthma society website www.asthma.ie and follow the Clean Air links.