CORK was among one of the most air polluted places on the planet in recent days as parts of the county experienced dangerous levels of air pollution PurpleAir, a real-time air quality monitoring system, recorded fine particulate matter (pm) 2.5 levels of more than 430 on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI) scale in Cork in recent days.
The air quality monitoring website described such levels as “hazardous”.
John Wenger, Professor in Physical and Environmental Chemistry at UCC, explained that the cold, still conditions in Cork is making it difficult for emissions to disperse.
“Emissions from burning coal, peat and wood are not being dispersed due to the cold, still weather conditions,” he said.
“Cork is not the only city experiencing this air pollution episode.
“Air pollution warnings are currently in place in London and many other cities in Western Europe,” he added.
Professor Wenger pointed to the fact that the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) issued ‘high’ pollution warnings for most of London on Monday.
When air pollution is forecast as ‘high’, Defra recommends that adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and if they experience symptoms.
It is not the first time in recent months that Cork has experienced high levels of air pollution.
On Monday, December 2 last year, Cork recorded the worst air quality in Europe.
Professor Wenger had previously called for Cork City Council to install real-time air quality monitoring technology operated by PurpleAir.
In 2019, air pollution is considered by the World Health Organisation as the greatest environmental risk to health.
Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing seven million people prematurely every year from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.
A leading air pollution expert at the UCC Environmental Research Institute (ERI) recently highlighted the effects of air pollution on people.
Speaking to The Echo, Professor John Sodeau said:
“Nobody escapes the effects of air pollution as it leads to a reduction in life expectancy for all of us, mainly by cardio-problems, lung cancer, diabetes, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and many others including miscarriage.
“Almost every day there are reports on the effects of air pollution on our health.”