Armagh is ‘worst in NI’ for air quality.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

COULD allievation of Armagh's traffic congestion be key in ensuring it shakes off the unenivable tag of being deemed the worst city in Northern Ireland for air pollution?

That's the question likely to be asked after a survey compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that tested 51 cities and towns across the UK for air quality was recently published.

It discovered that 44 failed the test for fine particles - known as PM2.5s - to be smaller than 2.5microns, according to WHO.

According to the survey results, Armagh has 14 micrograms of PM2.5s per cublic metre - ahead of Belfast at 12 and Londonderry at 11.

Across the UK Glasgow was ranked highest with 16 micrograms.

These PM2.5 particles have been linked to heart disease and premature death and exposure to PM2.5s should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air as recommended by WHO.

The stark results have, however, prompted the re port's authors to qualify that European Union air quality guidelines are "far less stringent" with an upper safety limit for PM2.5s of 25 micrograms per cubic metre.

They did, though, stress that they believed that the WHO limit represented a "safer threshold".

One of its author, Dr Toby Hillman of the Royal College of Physicians, also revealed that diesel vehicles - which produce pollutants - were one of the "key " factors in creating poor quality in cities and towns.

In light of the survey findings, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council stressed that it "continues to meet all statutory air quality requirements and works with partners and stakeholders across the borough to improve air quality".

A spokesperson explained; "PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) refers to the mixture of ultra-fine solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. As well as combustion products, it can be comprised of a large number of natural elements, such as pollen, dust and sand.

"Currently, the National Air Quality Strategy does not include the monitoring of PM2.5 and a revised Government strategy is expected next year."

The council also stressed that the implemenation of EU directives on air quality is the responsibility of the Department of Agricultural, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

"Our Local Air Quality Management powers deal with the monitoring of pollutants derived mainly from traffic and the burning of fuels. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to change and improve the air quality in areas particularly congested by traffic and also right throughout the borough," continued the spokesperson.

"It is hoped that the civic leadership undertaken by council and its role in land use planning continues, as a minimum, to hold back the worsening of air pollution. However, it is clear that only a nationwide policy of emissions reduction can address traffic source pollution associated with the whole national road network. We await the refinement and out-workings of central Government proposals in this regard.

"All councils report their air quality monitoring data annually to DAERA and these reports are available online at:

Data up to the latest hour is available from the air quality monitoring station located at Lonsdale Road in Armagh and can be accessed via:"

They added; "Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council regards the health and wellbeing of all its residents with the utmost importance and we are pleased that the vast majority of the borough has very good air quality.


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