Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (1031, 1032)

Niall Collins

Question:

1031. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of air monitors in County Limerick; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that air monitors stopped working in December 2018; when the monitors will be operational again; the steps that have been taken in the interim address the issue and protect residents from air pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13061/19]

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Niall Collins

Question:

1032. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason Limerick City and County Council has reportedly issued several reports showing acceptable levels of PM2.5 in view of the fact the directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (2008/50/EC article 11) clearly states that there is no safe level of PM2.5 that is a particulate matter of 2.5 micrometres or less due to the carcinogenic nature; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13062/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1031 and 1032 together.

Recent scientific evidence indicates that air pollution is more damaging at lower concentrations than was previously understood. With this in mind, I am advised that in January 2017 Limerick City and County Council installed three air quality monitors to measure dust levels at three sites in the city of Limerick. These were upgraded in June 2018 by the installation of additional equipment to allow for the monitoring of gaseous pollutants. I welcome this recent initiative by Limerick City and County Council which allows for the improved provision of air quality information to local residents.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency is working with Limerick City and County Council to provide two new ambient air quality monitoring stations in Limerick city, and a local monitoring station in Abbeyfeale as part of the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme 2017 to 2022. Funding for this five year programme is provided by my Department.

In relation to the levels of particulate matter, it must be recognised that it is not possible to eliminate this pollutant entirely. For PM2.5, the threshold established in European legislation (Directive 2008/50/EC) is 25 ug/m3 averaged over a calendar year, and there have been no recorded breaches of these thresholds in Ireland.