New EPA forecast service to monitor air quality in Ireland

3 Nov 2023

Image: © Nady/

Built using EU computer models and updated twice daily, the index will help people decide if they should perform physical activity outdoors on any given day.

There’s a new national service that lets people check the air quality index in their area anywhere in Ireland.

Launched today (3 November) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air quality index for health service includes forecasts across three pollutants that are most common in Ireland: particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.

These pollutants are mapped on a scale of one to 10 across the country to allow people to make judgements about how much they should expose themselves to the air outside or whether they should perform any physical activity outdoors on a given day.

Dr Micheál Lehane, director of the EPA office of radiation protection and environmental monitoring, said at the launch that air pollution can “seriously” impact people’s health.

“The air quality forecast will provide an important health and air quality resource for everyone and will be even more impactful for those of us who are particularly affected by poor air quality, including those suffering from respiratory disease and asthma,” he said.

“The forecast will also serve policymakers as a valuable tool for analysing air quality in Ireland.’’

According to the EPA, there are some “concerning” air quality issues in Ireland, such as the incidence of fine particulate matter released from the burning of solid fuel and nitrogen dioxide from vehicle emissions, both of which are detrimental to health.

Updated twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, the maps are produced by computer models which have been developed under an EU project and use Irish and European data such as air quality measurements, forecast weather and land cover data.

“The air quality forecast will be an important resource for our members and everyone with respiratory conditions,” added Eilís Ní Chathnia, chief executive of the Asthma Society of Ireland.

“Ireland has the highest incidence rate of asthma in Europe with one in 10 children and one in 13 adults developing the condition. 890,000 people [are] likely to develop asthma in their lifetimes.”

Last year, it was revealed that Dublin Airport was Ireland’s most polluting facility in 2021, according to a global inventory of emissions data released at COP27. The report claims the site emitted more than 1m tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The Drogheda cement plant in Co Louth emitted 983,500 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2021, making it Ireland’s second-largest polluter. It was followed by the Ballyconnell cement plant in Co Cavan, which accounted for around 955,000 tonnes of emissions.

In June, the EPA warned in a report that Ireland is likely to miss its emissions reduction targets by a significant margin with its current measures.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic