School Children to Take Action against Air Pollution

20 Feb 2020

Asthma Society of Ireland Opens Clean Air Competition to Schools

The Asthma Society of Ireland today officially opened a call for entries for its #OwnOurAir Schools competition which is kindly supported by ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund. The competition, which is opened to all primary and secondary schools in the country, aims to educate young people on the harmful effects poor air quality has on their health, while simultaneously encouraging students to take action against air pollution.

Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland said: “In Ireland, in 2016, 1,800 people died prematurely due to breathing polluted air. The 380,000 people who have asthma in Ireland, are at an increased risk of death because of air pollution. The latest Irish figures show that one person is dying every week from asthma. We believe that some of these deaths could be prevented by improving air quality. Worryingly, new evidence is also emerging that identifies traffic pollution as a cause of asthma in children*.

In order to stop deaths and ill-health caused by air pollution, we need to act on it now - we believe children may be the key to tackling air pollution.

Our #OwnOurAir Schools Competition, aimed at secondary school students, will educate young people on the detrimental health effects of breathing polluted air, while also encouraging them to take action to improve air quality in their locality.”

The Asthma Society’s Clean Air Competition is opened to all secondary schools in Ireland. To enter the competition, students must take an action against air pollution, document the action, and post about the action on social media.  Details about the #OwnOur Air Competition can be found on

Pat Naughton, Executive Director, People & Organisation Development at ESB, said: “ESB wishes to empower young people to reach their full potential through programmes that engage their scientific literacy and critical thinking skills. So we are proud to partner with the Asthma Society of Ireland in developing this initiative. The #OwnOurAir campaign is a fantastic way of engaging our younger generation in tackling today’s problems through creative and innovative thinking. It is based on engaging skills in Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths (STEAM) and using their learnings to help their fellow pupils and citizens who have asthma in a very practical way.”

Air pollution is a public health concern, with potentially harmful effects on all. Children face even higher risks, both to their health and their development. The Asthma Society has been advocating for change on behalf of people with asthma for decades. Air pollution, now considered as harmful to individual health as smoking, has become a growing concern for the 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland.

The Asthma Society’s #OwnOurAir Schools Competition is part of its overarching #OwnOurAir campaign which aims to tackle air pollution in Ireland. Schools that recently participated in the GLOBE project have been invited to compete by an Taisce. The #OwnOurAir campaign also champions the following changes to tackle air pollution at governmental level:

Publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy
Conduct a public education campaign on the link between air pollution and health targeted at healthcare professionals and vulnerable populations
Prioritise investment in public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure over major road infrastructure
Invest in low emission solutions across transport, housing and energy sectors
Phase out the sale and use of smoky solid fuels
Retain the Warmth and Wellbeing scheme for people with chronic respiratory illness and expand it nationwide

For those seeks advice on how to manage their asthma, the Asthma Society runs a free Asthma and COPD Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64. Callers can speak to a respiratory specialist nurse to get practical advice about managing their asthma or COPD or that of their child.


For media queries contact:

Pauric Keegan, Communications Officer at the Asthma Society, on 01 554 9203/086 866 0684 or

About the Asthma Society of Ireland:

The Asthma Society of Ireland is the national charity dedicated to empowering Ireland's 470,000 people with asthma to take control of their asthma by providing them and their families with information, education, services and support. They are focused on representing people with asthma and working to improve their health outcomes.

About the Asthma/COPD Adviceline:

The Joint Asthma and COPD Adviceline is available on 1800 44 54 64.

The Adviceline is proven to have a truly positive impact on people with asthma, with appointments tailored to the needs of each caller. The Adviceline respiratory specialist nurses work through every aspect of life with asthma: what to do in the event of an asthma attack, answering questions after a GP or consultant appointment, dealing with triggers that may be bringing on asthma symptoms, and helping  users put together an Asthma Action Plan to self-manage their condition. After speaking to one of the adviceline nurses, users will be fully equipped with the information and skills they need to improve their health and stay as well as possible

Callers can book a free call back appointment by calling the free phone number between 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to Friday. The Asthma Society facilitates a call back from the nurse at a time that suits the patient.

In 2019, the Asthma/COPD Adviceline was awarded an independent quality mark by the Helplines Partnership, one of only three helplines in Ireland to have achieved this standard.

About ESB

ESB operates across the electricity market on the island of Ireland: from generation, through transmission and distribution to the supply of customers with an expanding presence across Great Britain. In 2017 ESB opened an office in Glasgow to spearhead further development of renewables, in particular onshore and offshore wind, across Scotland. ESB is the owner of the distribution and transmission networks in the Republic of Ireland (via ESB Networks) and Northern Ireland (via Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd).  In 2017, the company had a 42% share of generation in the all-island market (via Generation and Wholesale Markets) and a 34% share of electricity supply in the all-island market (via Electric Ireland) with 1.4 million customer accounts.