EPA appeals for citizen scientists to measure air pollution in Cork city

22 Aug 2022

Deirdre Forde, Lord Mayor of Cork, with representatives of Cork City Council, the EPA, An Taisce, and other citizens. Image: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM Photo

The EPA and An Taisce are seeking 1,000 Cork City dwellers to measure the level of harmful pollutant, nitrous dioxide, in the air.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ireland has teamed up with environmental and heritage non-profit An Taisce on a project that is seeking the help of Cork citizens to measure the purity of the air in the city.

The EPA and An Taisce are asking 1,000 Cork citizen scientists to contribute to their Clean Air Together project. As part of the scheme, participants asked to measure nitrogen dioxide levels in their area.

Nitrogen dioxide is an air pollutant that can have harmful effects on your lungs and heart. It comes mainly from cars, vans and trucks.

The Cork project follows another similar project, also called Clean Air Together, that was carried out in Dublin last year.

Following the Dublin project, Cork people will be asked to register for free on the project’s website. Only residents of Cork city can participate.

The organisations are hoping to get 1,000 participants to sign up by 3 October, and air sampling will be carried out throughout the month. Participants will be sent packages in the post containing a tube and simple installation instructions. They can leave the tubes in a selected place for four weeks. Once the four weeks has elapsed, participants collect the tube and post it back to the EPA free of charge.

The contents of every tube will be analysed and results will be available in early 2023. EPA senior scientist, David Fenton, said his team was delighted to be bringing the project to Cork. He said the citizen scientists’ efforts will be able to give his team “a detailed picture of air pollution in Cork city”.

Sabrina Moore, project manager from An Taisce, said that the data collected from the Clean Air Together project will inform policy of Cork City Council to help combat air pollution.

A map showing the results of the air pollution data will be published on the Clean Air Together website. This will allow residents of Cork city to compare the level of air pollution in their areas with other areas.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic