Sunday, 25 February 2007


The Environmental Protection Agency has been accused of failing to monitor air quality on Irish motorways.

In a submission to the EPA, Friends of the Irish Environment have claimed that the Environmental Impact Assessment for the M50 revealed levels that breached air quality regulations yet the EPA has no monitoring sites on the motorway.

The group claims air quality exceeded the permitted levels were found in the EIA for the M50 widening at Castleknock Road, Park Drive Green, Holyville Terrace, Halting Site at N7, and the Ibis Hotel.

'The public would have never known their health was at risk from the EPA, who are the ones supposed to be monitoring air quality in Ireland', said a FIE spokesman. 'Even early Guidance Documents on the EC Air Quality Directives state that the key pollutants are mainly caused by emissions from automotive traffic. Yet the EPA will not locate their air monitoring sites at our motorways.'

'Monitoring sites should be in the area directly adjacent to our motorways. Roads leading to and from the M50 or any other motorway should also be included as houses on these would have a direct effect from the traffic.' The failure of the EPA to locate their monitoring sites along our major roads conceals the extent of the potential health effects and their contribution to greenhouse gases.

The World Health Organization has shown that the average European city dweller can expect to die a year before the end of his or her natural life span because of air pollution. Children's' lungs develop poorly, making them more vulnerable throughout their lives - particularly to pneumonia and asthma.

And the pollution produced, particularly ozone, can travel many miles into rural areas damaging human health, forest & crops. In California USA estimates of financial cost of plant injury form ozone were as high as $500 million in lost revenue per year.

The European Environmental Agency has stated that Ireland has the 'highest level of growth' in per capital transport emissions in the EU. The EPA itself stated this month that 'the rise of transport emissions was by far the largest in any sector in 2005 and reflected a 160 per cent increase on 1990 figures. 96% of transport pollution came from road transport.'

FIE claims that the Air Quality Directive requires Member States to provide for measures to control and, where necessary, suspend activities, including motor-vehicle traffic, which contributes to the limit values being exceeded.

The submission also reveals:

- that audits to industrial establishments have fallen 68% in the last 2 years while the number of establishments that must be monitored is increasing

- that present water quality standards are not sufficient to save legally protected endangered species

- that contrary to years of promises, no soil monitoring network has been established

- that the EPA itself in spite of openly publishing persistent and critical failures in water quality and monitoring by Local Authorities, has yet to use the powers given to it by the Environment Act 2003 to enforce the law.

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