Air quality measured daily at Antrim Road, Glengormley

Air quality has improved at Antrim Road, Glengormley, according to the latest statistics to be presented to councillors at a meeting on Monday evening.
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A report to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Operations Committee says the council has designated an air quality management area at this location to measure levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) associated with vehicle pollutants.

The report notes the local authority is responsible for reviewing air quality in the borough. Air quality management operates under the Environment Order (NI) 2002.

To assist this process, an Air Quality Strategy has been devised which sets down standards and objectives for air quality pollutants against which councils can monitor locally.

Glengormley town centre. Photo submitted by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough CouncilGlengormley town centre. Photo submitted by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Glengormley town centre. Photo submitted by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

DAERA (Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) requires levels of nitrogen dioxide to be monitored on an hourly basis and this occurs automatically at the Antrim Road location.

The report indicated results for last year have shown a reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions. In 2020 and 2021, these were lower due to reduced traffic flows during the Covid-19 pandemic and although levels increased in 2022, they reduced again in 2023. Monitoring will be continuing during 2024.

Meanwhile, Asthma and Lung UK Northern Ireland says that respiratory disease is one of the top three killers in Northern Ireland with one in five people diagnosed with a lung condition at some point in their lives.

The charity has also reported in the province, approximately 126,000 people are currently receiving treatment for asthma; including 36,000 children, 41,000 people have been diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulminary Disease), a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties; 1,000 people are living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and one in every 1,000 adults suffer from bronchiectasis.

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DAERA says when levels of air pollutants rise, adults suffering from heart conditions, and adults and children with lung conditions are “at increased risk of becoming ill and needing treatment” although only a minority of those who suffer from these conditions are likely to be affected.

“Some people are aware that air pollution affects their health: adults and children with asthma may notice that they need to increase their use of inhaled reliever medication on days when levels of air pollution are higher than average.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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