The Asthma Society of Ireland has made a submisison to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications consultation on the National Clean Air Strategy.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has cited air pollution as a major cause of premature death and disease, and the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. It estimates that approximately 400,000 premature deaths in the 27 EU Member States annually are linked to air pollution, costing up to €4 billion in healthcare utilisation and €16 billion in lost workdays. In Ireland, the EEA attributes 1,410 premature deaths annually to air pollution in total, 1,300 of which are caused by exposure to PM2.5.
Air pollution is caused by the excessive presence of tiny particles and certain harmful gases in the air that are hazardous to human health and the environment. It can be naturally occurring, like pollen, or manmade, like soot or smoke, and mostly so minuscule they are invisible to the naked eye. It is carried in the air outside and indoors, into our bodies, and causes greatest harm to the most vulnerable in our society: to children, the elderly, people who are homeless or living in substandard accommodation and those with chronic illnesses, such as heart or respiratory diseases, like asthma.
The Asthma Society has been working on air quality and respiratory health since its critical involvement in the 1990s campaign with Dr. Luke Clancy to ban smoky coal in Dublin City. The Society’s advocacy and awareness work in respect of air quality and its link with health has intensified over the last ten years. The Asthma Society is a Prescribed Body under Schedule 17 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2011 and thus must be informed of any air quality exceedance and must be consulted with by local and national authorities on air quality matters.The Society had made an initial submission to the first round of consultations on the National Clean Air Strategy held by the Department in 2017 and has been calling for the Strategy to be published ever since.
However, as it became clear the National Clean Air Strategy would not be published prior to the 2019 general election, leaving an inevitable gap of at least 5 years between consultation and publication, the Society began calling publicly for a second round of consultations to be conducted to ensure the Strategy would reflect relevant climate, health and social evidence that had emerged in the interim period.
We therefore welcomed the Department's announcement in March 2022 that a public consultation process would again be held and, accordingly, made our submission to ensure the needs of people with asthma informed the final Clean Air Strategy.
The full submission can be read here.