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Clean Air Together - Cork City

Applications to Clean Air Together (Cork City) are now closed, further details of the project to follow shortly

What is Clean Air Together?

Following its success in Dublin, Clean Air Together now invites Cork City residents to measure air quality levels in Cork City.

It is a citizen science project where up to 1,000 participants will record levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in their local area.

This will give us a better understanding of air pollution in the Cork City Council administrative area and help to improve air quality in the future.

How does it work?

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Up to 1,000 participants will be selected from the applications sent in. They will then be posted out a measuring tube to install outside their chosen location from October 3rd to 27th 2022. Over this measurement period, the tubes will measure NO2 levels in the air. They will then be taken down and posted to a laboratory for analysis. Finally, all the results will be displayed on a map on this website.

What is Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)?

Animated image of traffic in front of Cork City skyline

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a pollutant gas that mainly comes from vehicle traffic. You can find out more about it on our page – Why is Air Quality Important?

Being exposed to NO2 gas, even just 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. 

Who is running Clean Air Together?

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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) in Belgium and this time last year – Clean Air Together in Dublin took place. The Belgian project was the largest ever European Air Quality test. It was a fantastic success with impacts for society, science, policy and awareness in Flanders while in Dublin – we were overwhelmed with the interest and success in Clean Air Together, receiving 2,500 expressions of interest when originally targeted 1,000 participants. We hope that we will have a similar success in Cork City. Find out more about the Belgian project at curieuzeneuzen.be.

‘By using people power to gain understanding of air quality we can make great progress in the challenges we face to improve the air we breathe. We can make Clean Air Together!’

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.  Poor air quality is 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:

  • Home heating
  • Transport
  • Agriculture and
  • Energy generation

all contribute to poorer air quality throughout the year.

 

‘If you care about your own, your family’s and your community’s health, then you should care about air quality’

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is the gas we are measuring for the project. What is Nitrogen Dioxide?

Animated image of traffic in front of Cork City skyline

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is a pollutant gas. It mainly comes from traffic emissions and other fossil fuel combustion processes. It can also come from home heating, power stations, and the use of nitrogen (fertiliser and manure) in agriculture. Being exposed to NO2 gas, even just for short periods, can have harmful effects on our health and wellbeing.

Its presence in air contributes to the formation and modification of other air pollutants, such as ozone and particulate matter, and to acid rain.

 

What is the air quality like in Ireland?

 

Ireland’s air quality currently is good, relative to other European Union (EU) Member States, but keeping this standard is a growing challenge. The levels of particulate matter (tiny particles of pollution) and the measurements of NO2 over EU limits is of increasing concern.  

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.

What are levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) like in Ireland?

Animated image of traffic in a circle for Clean Air Together Cork City

The EPA measures air pollution regularly. It also uses computers to predict how much pollution there will be in the future. These show that in some urban areas NO2 pollution is increasing. There has been no exceedance of the EU limit value recorded in Cork for this pollutant yet, however it will be important to remain vigilant to increasing NO2 levels. This is particularly the case in urban centres from transport when the economy grows.  Find out more in the section below - "What Can You Do"

 

How does poor air quality affect us?

 

Poor air quality has serious health implications. Those suffering from asthma and respiratory conditions are most affected. In the short term, it can cause temporary illnesses such as headaches, breathing difficulties or eye irritation. Over the long term, it can contribute to more serious illnesses such as:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic and acute respiratory diseases including asthma.

Air pollution impacts our environment. It affects the quality of fresh water, soil, and ecosystems. Air pollution impacts our environment. It affects the quality of fresh water, soil, and ecosystems.

In 2016, an EU wide analysis estimated that poor air quality was a factor in more than 400,00 premature deaths. In Ireland, poor air quality is estimated to be a factor in the premature deaths of 1,300 people. The World Health Organisation has described air pollution as the ‘single biggest environmental health risk’.

 

If you care about your own, your family’s and your community’s health, then you should care about air quality

What Can You Do?

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. Push for policies that provide solutions to air pollution.

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Government and industry 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 are the main actions that will reduce NO2 and other traffic related pollutants

Checkout the 2021 Cork City Council Air Quality Strategy for how local air quality issues are going to be tackled up to 2026.

Raise any concerns with your local public representative. This may help get their support for cleaner air and healthier communities.

2. Choose cleaner alternatives for getting around.

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  • 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Share the message

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Tell others about what you have learned and what you have done. You can do this in many ways including through telling your family and friends, or through social media.

 

Share the campaign on Twitter

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has
Margaret Mead (Anthropologist).

Measure Your Air Quality

Would you like to know what the air quality is in your area? Now is your chance to find out! At the same time, you could also be contributing to scientific research that could ultimately help improve Cork City’s air quality.

  1. Do you live within the boundaries of the Cork City Council administrative area?
  2. Are you available to take a simple measurement on the dates of the project? (Measurement period, 3rd – 27th October, 2022)
  3. Are you willing to install a measurement tube in your local area?
  4. Are you happy to receive communications from the project team?

Note: Applications to Clean Air Together (Cork City) are now closed, further details of the project to follow shortly.

How does it work?

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  1. Citizens that are residents within the boundaries of the Cork City Council administrative area are encouraged to apply to be part of the project by September 14th.
  2. It is free to take part!
  3. Up to 1,000 participants will be selected for the project from all eligible applications received, based on their locations.
  4. Selected participants will be posted out a measurement tube to be put outside their chosen location from 3rd October.
  5. The tube will measure average NO2 levels over the period.
  6. On the completion date of October 27th, participants will take down the measurement tubes. The tubes will then be posted back (in a pre-paid self-addressed envelope) to the laboratory for analysis.
  7. We will create an interactive map on this website displaying the results. You will be able to see how your Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels compare to other parts of Cork City. The results will also be communicated to participants.

Who can apply?

If you are a resident within Cork City and over 18 years of age, you can register your interest to take part in Clean Air Together. You don’t have to have any scientific knowledge or expertise at all. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies to take part will be selected. There is a limit of 1,000 tubes that need to be spread across the city as evenly as possible.

People living outside Cork City can find out how they can help in the "What Can You Do" section above.

 

How will we choose the participants?

Participants will be selected primarily based on location.  

  • We’re particularly interested in measurement areas that have a lot of traffic.
  • We aim to have at least 10 measurement tubes per each electorate division of Cork City Council.

We also want as many people as possible from all walks of life to take part. You don’t have to have any scientific knowledge to take part.

How will the results be used?

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The data from Clean Air Together will be combined with air quality data from the EPA’s monitoring network. This will give a bigger and better picture of air quality in Cork City. The data will be used to check EPA computer models and to better understand air quality in Cork City. We aim to raise awareness of the project's results and air quality in general. Our hope is that this will feed in to air quality policy and promote behavioural change. Our aim is these results will move us towards better air quality.

When will I know I am a successful candidate?

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By September 21st (approximately).