IRELAND HAS SOME of the best air quality in Europe, according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency.
A flow of clean air from the Atlantic, and our relative shortage of large cities and heavy industry, means that Irish people enjoy less polluted air than most of our neighbours.
Emissions of oxides of nitrogen – a gas contributing to soil and water acidification – were also among the EU’s lowest. However, this is a national total rather than per capita.
The EPA report (full pdf here) also found that concentrations of particulate matter in the air have fallen in most cities and towns since 2002, although Cork has seen an increase in the last three years.
Ireland is on track to meet its target for greenhouse gas emissions for 2008-2012 under the Kyoto protocol.
However, the report said Ireland would still face a number of challenges in meeting future targets. It said levels of oxides of nitrogen in high-traffic areas would “continue to be a problem” and large-scale reductions in traffic would be necessary to bring them down further.
There are also significant problems with water quality. Less than half of coastal waters and lakes are listed as having “high” or “good” status by the EPA.
Fewer than one in 14 wildlife habitats listed under an EU directive are considered to be in a favourable state.
Each person in Ireland generated an average of 368kg of household waste in 2010. However, this is well below the EU average of 444kg.