Start Date: 01/01/2021
End Date: 31/12/2023
Total Budget: 1,612,557 €
EU Contribution: 842,911 €
Coordinating Beneficiary: Environmental Protection Agency
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Johnstown Castle, Y35 W821, Wexford, Ireland
Contact Person: Patrick Kenny
The European Environment Agency (EEA) states that air pollution poses the biggest risk to environmental health in Europe. In Ireland, air pollution is estimated to cause 1 180 premature deaths a year. The Irish Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) recent improvements to monitoring and assessment has highlighted more individual exceedences than anticipated in both urban and rural areas. This emphasises the need to further investigate the extent of the air pollution, improve governance and take appropriate action. There are currently a number of issues and barriers relating to the assessment of air quality: (i) Ireland does not have an air quality forecasting system; (ii) TheEPA relies on a limited monitoring network for its real-time measurements and better resolution is needed to identify hotspots to allow for more accurate health exposure calculation and risk assessment to flora and fauna; (iii) There is a lack of sufficiently high quality, spatial, residential and traffic emission intensity data, which are required as input parameters to build urban scale air quality models; (iv) Irish citizens are increasingly aware of the negative impacts of air pollution and are demanding more information and action; and (v) There is an upsurge in the use of wood to heat homes, alongside a misunderstanding of what may constitute green fuel for home heating.
The key goal of LIFE EMERALD is to strengthen air quality management in Ireland, to ensure effective implementation of the two complementary EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD) and to help implement the European Green Deal. The project will address the recommendations of the Clean Air Dialogue with Ireland, which was the EU review of air policy, ensuring that sufficient detailed information on air quality can be made available to citizens and stakeholders to accelerate decisions aimed at tackling air quality issues.
The main objectives are: Implementation and customisation of the LIFE ATMOSYS air quality modelling system, allowing the EPA to gain a better understanding of Irish air quality, to better advise its citizens and improve Irelands EU reporting obligations under the AAQD; Operational 3-day ambient air quality forecasting system to inform the public of predicted air quality, enable Irish authorities to take appropriate actions, and to provide near real-time air quality maps able to integrate monitoring data from low-cost sensors; Annual average high-resolution air pollutant maps, reliable health impacts to meet current/future reporting needs, and a customised air quality dashboard for internal/external use; Empower regional and local authorities responsible for air quality action plans, with improved/innovative tools and information regarding air pollution sources and hotspots, to ensure that cost-effective measures are taken; Strengthen awareness raising amongst the public, policymakers and stakeholders regarding the sources of air pollution, negative health effects and how effective measures can be implemented; and Encourage more dialogue between Irish stakeholders on the topic of air pollution, and transboundary international cooperation with neighbouring regions (UK and northern Europe), and more involvement at an EU level.
Expected results: Residential solid fuel inventory will survey approximately 1 000 people living in targeted areas, which will be tested using the EU Delta emissions tool to assess the impact; Setup of a new, operational 3-day ambient air quality forecasting/alerting system for Ireland which will be used by the EPA and city authorities in Dublin and Cork. It will provide better information for stakeholders, including local authorities who can trigger local measures; Detailed maps for NO2, PM10/PM2.5, O3, SO2 and NH3-N deposition to be used by EPA and five local authorities. These will be used by the EPA to fulfil reporting under law and by local authorities to assess local hotspots to trigger the implementation of measures to reduce air pollution; Increased awareness and active engagement of citizens (circa 1 000), resulting in more knowledge regarding their contribution to improving air quality; Customisation, implementation and installation of the ATMOSYS air quality management dashboard for Ireland, for continued use after the project end; Spatialrepresentativeness assessment of the Irish monitoring network, ensuring future network changes are in line with recommendations from recent EU studies; Significant reductions in air pollutants following the implementation of local air quality measures using the ATMOSYS system. This is expected to include: – NO2 concentration from 4.36 g/m3 (3 700 ton/year NOx) to 3.26 g/m3 (2 812 tons /year NOx) in the Dublin area; and – Particulate matter (PM10) concentration from 1.64 g/m3 (721 tonnes/year PM10) to 0.82 g/m3 (306 tonnes/year); – Approximately 100 000 citizens reached through social media, c. 300 000 via national TV, 300 000 visitors at large national events, 45 000 citizens see information boards, and an additional 1 500 leaflets circulated locally; – Raised awareness of the link between asthma, allergies and air pollution in the Irish public; – The ATMOSYS modelling tools will enable Ireland to participate fully in the EU FAIRMODE exercises, as well as future proofing the e-reporting system for modelling and compliance with future European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) standards.