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The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002 set out the limit values for all of the pollutants monitored by the Council. This includes pollutants currently monitored by Dublin City Council, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulates.

The analysers producing the sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide results run continuously. They require monthly internal calibration checks and six-monthly external maintenance and calibration checks. The analysers are downloaded remotely on a daily basis and the reports below indicate the conditions for the previous week. The data collected is raw data and is subject to calibration and editing on a monthly basis.

The particulates (PM2.5 & PM10) run on 16 day cycles after which the filters are collected, weighed and the results calculated.

Monitoring Sites

There are a number of air monitoring sites around Dublin City operated and maintained by the Environmental Health Officers in the Air Quality Monitoring and Noise Control Unit. The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002 sets out the requirements for monitoring pollutants, and the limit values for each pollutant.

Several of the sites are deemed to be ‘multi-pollutant’, i.e., monitoring two or more pollutants at one location. The multi-pollutant sites at Winetavern Street, Coleraine Street and Ballyfermot have been in operation for a number of years and provide a good picture of air quality in populated areas of the city. The real-time results of monitoring can be seen on the EPA website.

The analysers used to monitor SO2, NO2, and CO at the multi-pollutant sites run continuously, producing data every 15 minutes. They are reported as hourly averages.

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)

The main source of SO2 in Dublin is space heating from residential and industrial premises.

Health and environmental effects

There are a number of health effects associated with exposure to high levels of SO2, including breathing problems and worsening respiratory and cardiovascular disease. People with asthma, or chronic lung disease or heart disease are the most sensitive to SO2.  

SO2 along with Nitrogen Dioxide is a precursor of acid rain. It is therefore responsible for acidification of lakes and streams and accelerated corrosion of buildings.

The limit values for SO2 are found in Schedule 1 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

NO2 is a gas produced from the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, industrial plant, power plants and other commercial and residential sources that burn fuel.

Health and Environmental effects

NO2 irritates the lungs and lowers resistance to respiratory infection, especially for those already suffering with breathing difficulties e.g. asthma, bronchitis.

NO2 along with SO2, is a precursor of acid rain. It is therefore responsible for acidification of lakes and streams and accelerated corrosion of buildings.

The limit values for NO2 are found in Schedule 2 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

CO is colourless, odourless gas produced during the incomplete combustion of fuels. The main source of environmental CO is traffic.

Health and environmental effects

CO interferes with the distribution of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body. Depending on the level of exposure, the symptoms include fatigue, headache, disorientation, nausea and dizziness. These symptoms are similar to that of flu or food poisoning so it may prove difficult to diagnose. However, it has the potential to kill or poison in high levels, especially in poorly ventilated premises.

The limit value for CO is found in Schedule 6 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002.

Particulate Matter (PM10)

Health and environmental effects

The main sources of particulate matter (PM) are vehicles, dust from construction sites, construction equipment and any crushing and grinding operations. Indoors, the main sources are tobacco smoke, wood burning stoves, fireplaces and other home heating sources.

When inhaled, the particles can evade the body’s natural defence system and lodge in the lungs. Symptoms of exposure include a sore throat, persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. PM can increase the number of asthma attacks, or aggravate bronchitis depending on the exposure. However, those already susceptible are a greater cause for concern. This includes children, the elderly and those already suffering with breathing difficulties.

Schedule 3 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002 provides legal requirements for monitoring PM10.

For more information

Dublin City Council
Customer Service Centre
Civic Offices
Wood Quay
Dublin 8

Tel: (01) 222 2222 (0800-1800, Monday to Friday)
Fax: (01) 222 2222
Email: customerservices@dublincity.ie