Tipperary County Council Environment & Climate Action Section in association with the EPA installed an Air Monitor at Castle Cresent, Nenagh recently.
An air monitor measures the levels of a number of atmospheric pollutants. The pollutants of most concern are those whose main source is traffic such as Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Dioxide. There is a pump in the monitor which continuously draws in an air sample. The nephelometer analyses the individual particles even if there are millions of them per litre. This allows size fractions to be determined at concentrations up to several mg/m3.
The Environmental Protection Agency manages the ambient air quality monitoring network.
In order to protect our health, vegetation and ecosystems, EU directives set down air quality standards in Ireland and the other member states for a wide variety of pollutants. These rules include how we should monitor, assess and manage ambient air quality.
Nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides
Emissions from traffic are the main source of nitrogen oxides in Ireland along with electricity generating stations and industry. Nitrogen dioxide can affect the throat and lung. The main effects are emphysema and
cellular damage. It impacts visually as it has a brown colour and gives rise to a brown haze. Oxides of nitrogen contribute to the formation of acid rain and of ozone. Levels in Ireland are moderate but are increasing due to growth in traffic numbers
Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
There are many sources of particulate matter (dust) including vehicle exhaust emissions, soil and road surfaces, construction works and industrial emissions. Particulate matter can be formed from reactions between different pollutant gases. Small particles can penetrate the lungs and cause damage. These are known as PM10 (diameter less than 10µm) and PM2.5 (diameter less than 2.5µm).There are high levels of PM10 in many cities and towns. In smokeless fuel zones, levels of particulate matter decreased after the ban on bituminous coal.
The data from the Air monitor is up and running now and can be viewed at the following link.
Here is a link to the CAFÉ Directive which give information on PM.