Clean Air Together involves members of the public and the business community measuring Dublin’s air quality.
It is a citizen science project where approximately 1,000 participants are recording levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution in their local area. It is a joint project between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce.
This will give us a better understanding of air pollution across Dublin and help to improve air quality in the future.
How to remove and return your measurement tube for analysis
For a 4-week period during October/November – approximately 1,000 selected participants measured nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as follows:
Participants installed a measurement tube outside their chosen location from the 8th of October to the 5th of November.
The tube will measure the average NO2 levels over that period.
On the completion date, participants will take down their tube and post it back (in a self-addressed pre-paid envelope) to the laboratory for analysis.
Participants will get their results from us and we’ll create an interactive map on this website displaying all the results to the public.
In early 2022, you will be able to see how Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels compare across Dublin.
The Measurements (Phase) is now complete - with approximately 1,000 citizen participants having measured the air pollutant, NO2, in their area.
In early 2022, we will be displaying the results here on an interactive map so people can view how much NO2 was in their area during that 4-week period in October/November 2021.
The data from Clean Air Together will be combined with air quality data from the EPA’s monitoring network to give a bigger and better picture of air quality in Dublin.
These data points will be used to check EPA air quality computer models. These computer models will help to better understand air quality in Dublin.
The project aims to increase awareness of air quality, inform and affect policy and change attitudes to air quality issues. The project also aims to encourage behavioural change that will lead to better air quality for us all.
What is Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)?
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is an air pollutant that mainly comes from vehicle traffic. Being exposed to NO2, even for short periods, can have harmful effects on our health and wellbeing. EPA monitoring and computer modelling show that in some urban areas NO2 pollution is increasing. It will be important to remain vigilant to increasing NO2 levels, particularly from transport in urban centres when the economy grows.
With the assistance of the Local Authorities, the EPA manages a national network of air monitoring stations. Real-time air pollution data can be seen on www.airquality.ie The EPA is expanding this network and developing new computer models. In a couple of years, you will be able to see what air pollution is like near you, in real-time and a forecast for the next few days.
Why is Air Quality Important?
Air is of huge importance to life in all its forms. When we breathe, we absorb a lot of what is in the air into our bodies. In general, the more particles or gases in the air we breathe that are unhealthy for us (called pollutants), the unhealthier we are. If we want to stay healthy, we must ensure we have air that is as free from pollutants as possible. The less pollutants in the air the better our air quality. While progress has been made in making our air cleaner, much more needs to be done to improve our air quality. It is still responsible for significant public health impacts and environmental damage. So, making our air cleaner really matters.
Where do pollutants in the air come from?
While natural events may affect air quality, day to day human activities have a greater impact. In Ireland emissions from:
all contribute to poorer air quality throughout the year.
What is air quality like in Ireland
Ireland’s air quality currently is good, relative to other European Union (EU) Member States, however keeping this standard is a growing challenge. The levels of particulate matter and the measurements of NO2 over EU limits is of increasing concern.
(Particulate matter is tiny particles of pollution (PM) which mainly comes from domestic solid fuel heating).
Also, while our air quality might be good in comparison to other EU states, all levels of pollutants can do serious damage to our health. For example, currently air pollution in Ireland leads to the premature death of three people, on average, a day. More details of real-time air pollution data are available from the EPA at: Home | AirQuality.ie.
What are levels of NO2 like in Ireland?
EPA monitoring and computer modelling show that in some urban areas Nitrogen Dioxide pollution is increasing. In addition, the EU limit value for this pollutant was exceeded at one Dublin traffic monitoring location (St. John’s Road West, Inchicore, Dublin).
This type of exceedance will continue unless we curb our reliance on fossil fuel powered transport.
It will be important to remain vigilant to increasing NO2 levels, particularly from transport in urban centres when the economy grows. Find out more on our page – What can I do to help?
How does poor air quality affect us?
Poor air quality has serious health implications. Children, the elderly and citizens suffering from asthma and respiratory conditions are most affected. In the short term, exposure to NO2 is linked to airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in asthmatics. Over the long term, NO2 exposure is linked to increased risk of respiratory infection in children.
Air pollution also impacts the environment. It affects the quality of fresh water, soil, and ecosystems. Air pollution can also damage materials and buildings. Some air pollutants behave like greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
A European Environment Agency (EEA) analysis estimates that more than 400,000 premature deaths were attributable to poor air quality in the EU in 2016. In Ireland, the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution is estimated at 1,300 people per year. The World Health Organisation has described air pollution as the ‘single biggest environmental health risk’.
What can I do to help?
To ensure healthy air quality for all, we need to stop the ways our society creates air pollution. These changes need to come at every level of society for that to happen. Companies, governments, communities, individuals, all have a role to play. You can do your part in many ways. Here are some of them:
1. Support the Clean Air Together Project
If you’re not a participant of the project, you can still follow the project, and tell others about it. You can learn more about what you can do for air quality and keep up to date with the project through this website. We will share all the results here when they are available. You can share our social media messaging in the Share the Message at the bottom of the page. For Clean Air Together to work best, we need everyone to take actions together.
2. Support policies that provide solutions to air pollution.
Policy can have a huge impact on the levels of pollution in the air. These policies can support:
Clean public transport systems*
More incentives for electric cars*
Pedestrian and cycle-friendly networks*
More energy-efficient buildings
Restrictions on solid fuel use systems
City or district heating
Updating of old heating systems
* These actions are the main actions that will reduce NO2.
Raise any concerns with your local public representative and get their support for cleaner air and healthier communities.
3. Choose cleaner alternatives for getting around.
Change your travel behaviour and try to walk or cycle on shorter trips, instead of using your car. This emits zero emissions and is a step towards a healthier lifestyle. Enquire with your company about the Bike to Work scheme, safe and secure cycle parking and changing facilities at work.
Consider public transport as a more sustainable alternative to the private car.
Can you make your journeys using cleaner transport options? Could you consider an electric vehicle for your next purchase?
Alter your driving habits and switch off your engine when your vehicle is stopped. This helps to reduce NO2 emissions and reduce the amount of pollution pedestrians and cyclists will breathe in from your vehicle.
Support flexible working arrangements such as home working to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
4. Move to cleaner ways of heating your home, if you can
Is there an alternative way to heat your house than an open fire or stove? If you do use these, think about how you could be more efficient with the heat you have with these tips for heat efficiency.
5. Make your house more energy efficient
There are plenty of ways for your house to contribute less to air pollution. There also SEAI grants that will help you to do this.
6. Share the message
Tell others about what you have learned and what you have done. You can do this in many ways including through word of mouth, or through social and traditional media.
Who is responsible for Clean Air Together?
Clean Air Together is a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce.
Has this type of project been carried out before?
Many citizen science projects on air quality have been run all over the world. This project was inspired by an experiment called CurieuzeNeuzen (Curious Noses). It was carried out in Belgium. It was the largest ever European Air Quality Citizen Science Project. It was a fantastic success with impacts for society, science, policy and awareness in Flanders. We hope that we will have similar success in Ireland. Find out more about the project at curieuzeneuzen.be.
How will the results be used?
The results will give us a better picture of air quality across Dublin, raise awareness of air quality in general, inform air quality policy and promote behaviour change.
By better understanding air pollution in Dublin and the impact it can have on our health, we can plan to improve air quality in our local areas.
How will we choose the participants?
Participants have been selected based on location.
We’re particularly interested in measuring areas that have a lot of traffic. For example, within the boundaries of the M50 motorway and along main roads from the city centre.
We also aim to have at least 30 measurement tubes per Dublin City and County district postal code. (e.g. D1, D3, etc.).
We would like as many people as possible from different communities and all walks of life to take part.