independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

EPA urged to reinstate air quality monitoring in town

CALL FOR PERMANENT STATION AFTER 18-YEAR ABSENCE

CLLR MICHEAL O'Dowd is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reinstate a permanent monitoring of air quality in Drogheda after an 18 year absence.

The environmental health officers of the former North Eastern Health Board were involved in air pollution monitoring on behalf of Louth County Council under an agency agreement until 1994.

However, the HSE said environmental health officers have had no involvement in air pollution monitoring in Louth since the agency agreement with Council ended.

At the January meeting of Drogheda Borough Council, Cllr O'Dowd said he was very dissatisfied with a response to his request from the EPA, and a further letter should be written on behalf of all the council members.

' Their response doesn't make sense, as in the last report in 2003, Drogheda exceeded certain limits, and needed to be constantly monitored, and now they are contradicting themselves and saying there is no need,' said the Fine Gael representative.

'We are an area of high industrial activity and current monitoring of the air in the likes of Indaver is based on computer software and an estimate, so I think we need to request a static air monitoring station once more in Drogheda.'

In response, the EPA said that Drogheda is in Zone C along with other towns and cities outside Dublin and Cork, and these are monitored on a rotating basis for levels of atmospheric pollutants.

'Drogheda was monitored for a periods some years ago and it is expected a second round of monitoring will be carried out again within the next few years', said the written response.

'I would like to second this proposal, and because of high instances of asthma and allergies in the town, I think this offhand response is unacceptable, and we should seek a more permanent solution,' said Cllr Frank Maher.

' There was a static station before on the old Parochial Centre, and I think we should be seen as unique in the town with the amount of local industry with very high volumes of traffic. 'It is vital the air is monitored.' The situation becomes more urgent as it has emerged in new research that there is a link between early-life exposure to pollution and autism spectrum disorders.

Research published in the latest Archives of General Psychiatry found that children with autism are two-tothree times more likely than other children to have been exposed to car exhaust, smog, and other air pollutants during their earliest days.

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