Results of a clean air project have revealed the areas in Cork city with the highest levels of air pollution.
The Lower Glanmire Road proved to be most polluted area in the city, followed by MacCurtain Street and the South Link Road according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The results were derived from The Clean Air Together, a citizen science project where 700 participants across the city were invited to measure the air quality in their area over four weeks in October 2022.
Cork locals erected a test vial to their homes, to measure the levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels at different locations around the city.
The results clearly show the impact of traffic on NO2 air pollution levels: the more traffic there is, the higher the levels of NO2.
“On the map you can see a trend emerging: higher results represented as orange and yellow dots are mostly present in the city centre and along some of the major roads around Cork City.
The map shows the N02 measurements gathered by Clean Air Together (Cork City) participants for approximately four weeks in October 2022.
Moving outwards to the suburbs and away from major roads, the measurements drop to lower levels of NO2 (light blue).
Finally, most of the lowest results (dark blue dots) can be found further away on the outer suburbs of Cork City.”
In 6 out of 10 locations sampled, NO2 levels fall into the lowest category (58%).
The pie chart below shows the distribution of Clean Air Together (Cork City) results.
Labour local area rep for Cork City, Peter Horgan said:
“The results of the Clean Air Together project are unsurprising.
“Government, regardless of party, needs to dramatically up the rollout of retrofitting and should prioritise Cork homes dependent on fossil fuel burning for heat.” The results also suggest that the greater the distance between a dwelling and a busy road the lower the NO2 levels.
“NO2 quickly reduces with distance, for example a long front garden or living on an upper floor of an apartment building can offer some protection against NO2 pollution. This finding is important as Cork City continues to grow and change.” Being exposed to NO2, even for short periods, can have harmful effects on our health and wellbeing. Short-term exposure to NO2 is linked to adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in asthmatics.
In an effort to counteract the growing levels of air pollution, Cork City Council adopted their Clean Air Strategy in 2021.
These actions include the building of more cycle lanes and footpaths, investment in clean public transport and through the launch pf Ireland’s first Clean Air Zone in April 2022.
The EPA has advised that households can take control of their N02 emissions by opting to ditch the car and avail of public transport.
“I also believe that we need to take a leading step here in acorn and roll out Labour’s €9 Climate Ticket that would have an impact on traffic levels immediately, as advocated by our Transport spokesperson Duncan Smith TD.
“Coupled with an ambitious school transport for all policy, as advocated by Seán Sherlock TD, we would take so many cars off the road and reduce congestion, anxiety for parents and help clean the air. There are just three practical, cost effective, climate proofed solutions that can take place in Cork this week if the political ambition was there,” Labour Rep, Peter Horgan commented.