EU watchdog finds no Irish city has good air quality
No Irish city has been rated as having “good” air quality in the past two years, according to a new report from the EU’s environment watchdog.
The European Environment Agency’s updated air quality rating for cities in Europe over the period 2020-2021 found that the air quality in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford was only rated as ‘passable’.
The report ranks cities from cleanest to most polluted based on average levels of fine particulate matter (which includes dust, soot and smoke) otherwise known as PM2.5 over the past two years.
A “fair” rating means that the level of air pollution is just above the annual World Health Organization recommended guideline of 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m³).
The report found Dublin had the best air quality among Irish cities, ranking 35th overall with particulate matter of 7.4µg/m³ based on results from 10 monitoring stations.
It narrowly edged out Cork, which had the 38th best air quality of European cities with a reading of 7.5µg/m3.
Limerick was ranked 73rd (8.5µg/m³) with Waterford 130th out of 344 European cities surveyed with 9.5µg/m³.
The results are based on over 400 monitoring stations in 31 European countries, including all 27 EU member states.
Only 11 cities were rated as having good air quality, with Umeå in Sweden and Faro and Funchal in Portugal rated as the cleanest in Europe.
The “good” rating means that their PM2.5 levels were below WHO guidelines for long-term exposure to particulate matter of 5 µg/m³.
In contrast, the annual EU limit value for particulate matter of 25 µg/m³ was only exceeded in the three most polluted cities — Nowy Sacz in Poland and Cremona and Padua in Italy.
The EEA said these results highlight the difference between the WHO guideline and the EU standard.
Long-term exposure to air pollution has the most severe health effects, with PM2.5 being the air pollutant with the greatest health impact in terms of premature death and disease.