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Saturday 20 September 2014

Fears for Irish health as UK reports 'high' levels of pollution

Elevated readings recorded blamed on Saharan dust

Published 02/04/2014 | 13:16

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30/03/14
Motorist all over dublin woke up this morning to see a strange dust covering their cars which was due to exceptionally strong winds over North Africa, which led to sand being displaced from the Sahara Desert and following a path up through parts of Europe.

Pictures Declan Masterson Photography
Motorists all over Dublin woke up on Sunday to see a strange dust covering their cars. Pictures Declan Masterson Photography

The quality of air in Ireland has suffered in line with dust carried from continental air flow from the Sahara desert.

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A factor in the recent 'high' level pollution warnings in the UK, there are fears that this dust may also have a detrimental impact on the health of Irish people.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "Automated air quality monitoring sites in Dublin recorded slightly elevated particulate matter readings between March 27-31, consistent with a contribution from the Saharan dust."

"The EPA will continue to monitor the situation and continue to provide information to the public on its website."

The EPA's Air Quality Index for Health is a number from one to 10 that tells you what the air quality currently is in a certain region.

An Index reading of 10 means the air quality is 'very poor' and a reading of one to three inclusive means that the air quality is 'good'.

This morning's forecast from UK group Defra reported that large parts of southern England have "high" levels of pollution, with some parts "very high".

Across most of England, moderate to high air pollution levels are forecast, with extreme cases expected in parts of East Anglia and the East Midlands.

Yet an EPA spokesperson has told independent.ie that Ireland has no need to act as yet. "Current air quality is 'good' for all areas with index readings of 1-3."

"You can see current readings on the AQIH map.  The Air Quality Index for Health is calculated every hour and information about the current air quality status is tweeted twice a day via @EPAairquality (8am and 5pm)." 

EPA air quality.JPG

In the event of air quality not being 'good', advice is available to the public on the EPA website on what precautions to take. 

For Ireland, with the fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the world, the consequences could be quite serious. 

For people suffering the effects of high levels of pollution - including sore eyes, coughs and sore throats - Asthma UK have advised them to cut down the amount of activity they take outside.

Asthma Society of Ireland CEO Sharon Cosgrove told independent.ie: “The rain here today is allowing us avoid the worst of any pollution, so we have nothing to worry about today!"

"But the advice given by Asthma UK is appropriate (for their scenario).”

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