A THOUSAND citizens installed nitrogen dioxide tubes outside their homes all around Cork city this week.
The small plastic cylinders may not look like much but are in fact playing an important role in the Clean Air Together project.
Clean Air Together involves members of the public and the business community measuring Cork’s air quality.
It is a citizen science project where approximately 1,000 participants are recording levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in their local area.
Many participants took to Twitter to share pictures of their testing tubes being installed.
One such participant is Green Party Councillor for Cork City North East, Oliver Moran.
Speaking on the project, the councillor said: “I was grateful along with other residents and members of Cork City Council to volunteer to host a monitoring tube for a month. The focus of Clean Air Together is on pollution from motor traffic.
“The survey in Cork follows a similar survey that took place in Dublin last year. Ironically, that found the parts of the city most affected by traffic pollution were those areas where residents had the lowest car ownership,” he added.
NO2 is a pollutant gas that mainly comes from vehicle traffic.
Being exposed to NO2 gases, even just for short periods, can have harmful effects on the health and well-being of locals.
These pollutants are increased in urban centres such as Cork city.
“The data will be used to compile a map of traffic pollution in the city. We already have maps for noise pollution from road traffic. One of the most immediate discussions this information can feed into is around the proposals for BusConnects and where we need to reduce traffic and congestion.”
The movement is a joint project between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce.
Last night, participants installed a measurement tube outside their chosen location, which will remain there from October 3 to October 27.
Over the duration of the four weeks, the tubes will measure the average NO2 levels over that period.
Upon completion, participants will take down their tubes and return it to the laboratory for analysis.
This will give EPA Ireland a better understanding of air pollution across Cork and help to improve air quality in the future.
Participants will receive the results of their localities’ NO2 levels in early 2023.
These results will then be adapted into an interactive map that displays the levels of air pollution across the city.