There are serious concerns about Tralee’s air quality after it fell below safe standards for almost a week last month.
Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Monitoring Station at Tralee Library in Moyderwell show that for six days, from Tuesday November 24 to Sunday November 29, Tralee’s air quality was below the EU and World Health Organisation’s minimum safe standards.
The EPA constantly monitors ‘particulate matter’ (PM) levels in the air. ‘PM10’ particles – so named because they measure just 10 microns) are mainly produced by traffic while smaller ‘PM2.5’ particles are created by burning solid fuels.
Under EU guidelines in any area PM25 levels should average no more than 35 micrograms per cubic metre over 24 hours. The WHO says the safe limit is even less at just 25 micrograms .
Both the EU and WHO agree the safe PM10 level is 50.
Over these levels adults and children with lung or heart problems are advised to limit their outdoor activities. High levels of PM in the air have long been linked with respiratory illnesses and heart disease.
For six days last month these levels were consistently breached in Tralee with both PM10 and PM2.5 safe levels breached on four of them.
On November 26 and 29 air pollution levels in Tralee were just a fraction below the threshold for the town’s air to be classed as ‘poor’ on the EPA’s ten point scale.
On those days Tralee’s air quality was at Level 6 but with PM2.5 levels only 0.5 and 1.5 micrograms below Level 7 which can cause sore eyes coughs and sore throats.
PM limits in Tralee were previously broken on six days last January but this wasn’t over a continuous period.
Since then air quality in the town had been consistently good and were normally well within safe levels.