Poor air quality contributes up to 3,400 premature deaths and costs Ireland up to €6.3 billion a year, An Taisce has revealed.
According to The National Trust for Ireland, Irish people are suffering unnecessarily high levels of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.
The Trust has written to Phil Hogan TD the Minister of the Environment and James Reilly TD the Minister of Health asking them to use Ireland's EU Presidency to deliver better air quality for Europe.
"The figures for Europe as a whole are frightening", according to James Nix, Policy Director with An Taisce:
"420,000 premature deaths and up to €790 billion in economic costs due to poor air quality".
"We're fully familiar with the consequences of weak legislation and poor regulation in the financial sector; when it comes to protecting people from air pollution - particularly the very young and elderly - the fallout is even more stark", noted James Nix.
The high financial burden for Ireland of €6.3 billion annually, is due to days lost in work and education, as well as the direct health costs.
Traffic is the main culprit says An Taisce, which says Ireland needs to focus on reducing pollutants from diesel cars, buses and trucks.
While progress has been made, Ireland remains in ongoing breach of EU law because of traffic-induced nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are implicated in asthma and other respiratory conditions.
An Taisce is advocating that Ireland avoids long-term breach of EU law on NOx.
It says that a failure to tackle traffic-derived air pollution over time will cost Ireland dearly in the longer run.