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City's air, noise pollution levels now available online

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Car exhaust fumes are a source of air pollution

Car exhaust fumes are a source of air pollution

Car exhaust fumes are a source of air pollution

Noise and air pollution are part and parcel of city life but a new website will let Dubliners measure just how big a part.

The site - www.dublincity airandnoise.ie - has been set up by Dublin City Council to provide real-time information on air quality and noise levels at key locations around the city.

In relation to air pollution, it concentrates on showing measurements for particulate matter (PM), which is the microscopic bits of dirt, dust, soot, smoke, pollen and droplets of liquid that can hang in the air.

Martin Fitzpatrick, of the Air Quality Monitoring and Noise Control Unit, said: "We look at two different measurements, PM10 and PM2.5.

"They're all tiny particles but PM2.5 are the smallest and we're particularly interested in those because the smaller they are, the deeper they can be drawn into your lungs."

Track

The good news yesterday was that as the website was launched, all the monitoring stations were showing a low or very low reading.

That won't always be the case, however, and Mr Fitzpatrick said the site would allow Dubliners to track what was going on in their neighbourhood or other places they regularly visit so they could make decisions to protect their health and that of loved ones.

"You can look back over time to see the trends," he said. "We will have 8,760 hourly readings from each monitor each year, so it's easy to pinpoint a time."

In relation to noise, two of the 13 sites monitored had a high reading, 10 had a moderate reading and just one was low.

One of the high-noise areas was Chancery Park beside the Four Courts but that did not surprise Mr Fitzpatrick.

"You've got a lot of traffic on the quays, the Luas going by and construction work going on. It will get quieter later in the evening," he said.

"You have to take into account the context. People may be surprised to see the monitor on Bull Island reading moderate - but it's picking up the sound of the wind and surf.

"Most people wouldn't really classify that as noise so when you look at the readings it's not always about the level of noise but the kind of noise."

The website is colour-coded for at-a-glance information but detailed data is also recorded.

Dublin City Council is inviting feedback from the public on the site, which will be tweaked and added to over time. Comments can be sent to airquality@dublincity.ie