May 12th, 2016
The World Health Organisation today released figures on air pollution in cities, which revealed that Bray, Longford, Galway and Dublin breached safe pollution limits.
Various measures exist for assessing air quality, one of which is Particulate Measures (PM). These are microscopic amounts of solid or liquid matter that are suspended in air. Longford breached the safe levels set for PM10, registering 22 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3). Bray was close behind showing annual mean levels of 20 μg/m3.
Four Irish cities breached limits on a measure of finer particles, PM2.5, which are produced in combustion, including in cars and some industrial processes. Longford again showed the highest levels of pollution on this measure, with Bray, Galway and Dublin also failing to meet safe standards.
WHO has said that 80% of people living in monitored urban areas are exposed to unsafe air quality levels. Being exposed to air pollution increases the likelihood of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory diseases such as asthma.
“It is crucial for city and national governments to make urban air quality a health and development priority,” says WHO’s Dr Carlos Dora. “When air quality improves, health costs from air pollution-related diseases shrink, worker productivity expands and life expectancy grows.”
Air pollution is linked to more than 3 million premature deaths worldwide every year.