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28 Jun 2022

It's time to get tough on air pollution after 'shocking' EPA report - says Irish Heart Foundation

It's time to get tough on air pollution after 'shocking' EPA report - says Irish Heart Foundation

The charity criticised political resistance to more stringent rules, despite toxic air accounting for almost ten times the 2020 road death toll of 149.

The Irish Heart Foundation today called on the Government to implement stronger air quality regulations immediately, following a report revealing that air pollution remains responsible for an estimated 1,300 premature deaths a year.

The charity criticised political resistance to more stringent rules, despite toxic air accounting for almost ten times the 2020 road death toll of 149.

The grim findings are contained in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality in Ireland 2020 report.

With fine particulate matter from the burning of smoky, solid fuels such as coal, turf and wood remaining the biggest contributor to poor and health harming air quality in Ireland, the health charity wants the forthcoming solid fuel regulations rolled out sooner than planned for the benefit of public health.

Dr Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation said:

“Unfortunately, we have seen no reduction from 2019 in the number of lives being lost prematurely to the dangers of air pollution arising from the burning of solid fuels.

“Despite overwhelming evidence showing that there is no safe level of exposure to air pollution, we continue to have resistance from some within Government and on the opposition benches to stronger solid fuel and air quality regulations that are proven to save lives.”

Irish Heart Foundation CEO, Tim Collins

The report outlines how Ireland was above WHO air quality guidelines for particulate matter and other toxic pollutants at 52 monitoring sites across the country – mainly as a result of the burning of solid fuels in villages, towns and smaller cities.

“It is crucial that this Government brings in a new Clean Air Act and immediately adopts the WHO air quality guidelines,” said Dr Collins.

“Not only will it save lives and clean our air, but it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help create a healthier, greener society for our children, who are most vulnerable to the dangers of air pollution.

“It’s shocking that in spite of the massively reduced traffic volumes due to the pandemic, we’ve squandered the opportunity to seriously tackle air pollution to the extent that not a single extra life has been saved.

“We now need decisive action to implement a Clean Air Act that adopts more stringent WHO air quality guidelines", he added.

The Irish Heart Foundation says air pollution harms nearly every organ in the body, with the impact most damaging on the cardiovascular system.

However, it says persistent delays and resistance to stronger regulations means that countless lives continue to be needlessly lost.

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