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Air only “fair” in much of country due to ozone – new live air website

AIR quality in the west, north west, and south west is only rated “ fair “ in a new website showing live pollution levels nationwide.

This means that adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, who experience symptoms, should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.

The pollution is caused by naturally occurring ozone being elevated during the spring, according to the Environmental Protection Agency which launched the live site.

The live websites http://www.epa.ie/air/quality/ and twitter feed @EPAAirQuality is updated hourly.

It shows live air quality in every part of the country with four ratings, good, fair, poor and very poor. Health advice is also given for each band.

Dr Tessa Greally, HSE public health section, said that ozone levels tended to be higher at this time of the year, influenced by pollution blowing in from other countries.

She said those at risk included people with lung conditions and asthma as an attack might be triggered.

The colour coded air quality index enabled parents and others to see precisely the quality of the air in their area, and to take appropriate precautions based on the advice also included on the site.

“ Generally the Irish air quality is good compared to neighbouring countries, “ Dr Greally added.

The four air quality bands and corresponding advice:

Good- enjoy your usual outdoor activities.

Fair – adults and children with lung problems and adults with heart problems, who experience symptoms should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.

Poor -  Same as fair, plus people with asthma may need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.

Very Poor- Those with lung and heart problems and the elderly, avoid strenuous outdoor activity. Reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as cough or sore throat.

Speaking at the launch in Farmleigh House, Dublin, today EPA director general Laura Burke said: “ People can check current air quality for their region, find out if it might impact on their health and get advice on what they can do to reduce the effect.”

The public can also sign up to the twitter channel and receive tweets on the status of air quality in their region every day.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said air pollution was estimated to result in 420,000 premature deaths every year in the EU.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, European Environment Agency executive director said air quality varied considerably across Europe, changing from city to city, day to day, even hour to hour.~

“Getting access to accurate and timely information is essential for the public, in particular for those suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” she added.

Online Editors