At this time of year it’s great to get out for a walk to blow away the cobwebs and burn off those mince pies. But is it fresh air we’re breathing, or something else? Let’s take a deep breath and dive in …
The Good Old Days
Back in the Beforetimes (2020) we wrote this article on Air Quality, prompted by school science projects to measure the level of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air. At that time, St Joseph’s School reported levels of NO2 of between 10 and 15. This is within the air quality limits. Hooray for us?
The Sky’s The Limit
Ireland is required by the EU to have a value of under 40, when averaged across the entire year.
In 2021 the World Health Organisation (WHO) published new air quality guidelines for health, including interim targets. In 2022 Ireland failed to meet these targets.
The new limit for NO2 is 25 (average over a 24-hour period), or 10 when averaged over a year.
Here’s another way of looking at that:
The (Christmas) Present
Back in the present, and we have some lovely new data from schools across Ireland, thanks to the GLOBE program, run by An Taisce.
In Navan two monitoring devices were set up – one in a sheltered area, another near the main road.
|Near Main Road
- The good news – in the school grounds, the air quality is good.
- The bad news – near the main road, the air quality is medium.
If you’re in traffic going to school,
your children are being exposed to levels of Nitrogen Dioxide
that can be harmful
But Wait – There’s More
The EPA have a permanent monitoring station, located at the fire station on the Kells road. This station records the NO2 levels every hour, 24/7. So what does this tell us? Well, here’s a snapshot from October:
The rows are days, and the columns show the hour of the day. The higher the NO2 level, the darker red it appears.
You can see that in the early hours from midnight to 7am, over on the left side, there’s not much red, and the numbers are low. During peak times (9am and 6pm) there’s a lot of red. That’s not good!
If you take a look at the daily averages, the EPA limit is breached on 6% of days in 2023.
When you do the same for the new WHO limits, the limit is breached on 43% of the days.
If you like to travel around 9am, to school for example, the WHO limit is breached over 60% of the days.
Is This OK?
No, clearly this is not fine.
What Can I Do?
The simple answer is, don’t drive a petrol or diesel car to drop your kids to school.
Take a bus. The N1 and N2 buses go every half hour. From Commons Road the N1 bus leaves at 08:30 and arrives at the Loreto at ten to nine. The 08:15 N2 from Commons Road will get you to St Oliver Plunkett’s at twenty to nine.
Walk. If you’re within the blue area, it’s a 20 minute walk to the Loreto school. Better still, you’ll never be held up by traffic, so you don’t need to leave early just in case.
I cant think of any other ways to travel.
Oh wait, how about cycling?
If you’re in the red area below it’s a ten-minute bike ride to school. That covers most of Navan – a much wider area than walking.
Live further outside Navan? If you’re driving in to school, it’s taking you at least 25 mins by car, or more if you leave early to beat the traffic. If you’re in the red area, you’re 20 minutes by bike, and you never need to leave early to avoid traffic delays.
And … breathe
There are lots of ways to get around Navan. The great thing is, you don’t need to travel the same way every day. We’re coming up to a new year, so why not make a New Year’s Resolution to try a different way to travel? Your lungs will thank you for it!