6 January 2021
By Elaine Murphy
The Green Party in Cork has proposed that Cork City Council should issue advice to city residents when air quality drops in the city.
The motion was put forward by Green Party councillor, Oliver Moran, who said the system should be similar to the one in place for flood warnings in the city:
“Especially now during COVID, there are more people going for walks outdoors with their families. Over the Christmas period, I was out for a walk with my son and he noticed the air thick with pollution. I found my throat tickling too.
“Cork City Council has collaborated with UCC to place a network of air quality monitors across the city. I checked online when I got home and, sure enough, the air quality monitors showed it was worst where we had been walking.
“At this time of year, especially with still weather, the monitors show regular a regular pattern of spikes in air pollution in early evening to do with the burning of solid fuel fires. At these times air quality in the city suburbs regularly drops to a degree rated ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ on the European Air Quality Index. This means residents should consider avoiding outdoor activities, especially if they experience symptoms like sore eyes, a cough or a sore throat.
“I don’t think a system of alerting residents should be seen as anything alarmist. It’s about informing people to make decisions to go out at certain times or not. It also brings home that the need to find alternatives to solid fuel home heating isn’t just related to climate action. It’s about everyday health, like air quality, too.”
Real-time data from the Cork City Council/UCC network of air quality monitors can be viewed on purpleair.com.