The Air Quality Monitoring Annual Report 1998, recently published by the Environmental Protection Agency, confirms generally low concentrations of smoke, sulphur dioxide, ozone and lead in monitored urban areas including Dublin and Cork. Carbon monoxide levels in Dublin and Cork were also well within WHO guidelines in the absence of any specific EU or national standards. However, the report confirmed that high concentrations of particulate matter in Dublin and nitrogen oxides in Dublin and Cork are closely associated with heavy traffic.
While the relevant national and EU air quality standards are being met in both cities, it is recognised that the new EU limit values for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides will be challenging in urban areas with heavy traffic.
A number of policies and measures which will facilitate meeting the new air quality standards to apply from 2005 and 2010 are already being implemented, and were outlined in the replies to Questions Nos. 592 of 26 January and 229 of 22 February 2000. Ongoing implementation at national level of the EU auto oil programme will continue to be supplemented as necessary by targeted local measures identified by Government and relevant authorities in the areas of traffic management, sustainable public transport and air quality management planning.
Any further measures that may be required to comply with the new EU air quality standards will be guided by the results of the EPA's preliminary assessment of national air quality currently being undertaken.