High levels of particulate matter air pollution were recorded in Londonderry, Northern Ireland yesterday (7 January), prompting a health warning from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Low levels of air pollution were recorded elsewhere in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK, although DAERA warned that there was a possibility that other urban areas could experience high air pollution as a result of weather conditions.
Derry’s high pollution levels were the result of the cold, calm weather conditions experienced on Sunday the Department said, adding that these conditions “can lead to the build-up of local emissions from vehicles and home heating”.
Members of the public subscribed to the ‘Air Aware’ text alerts service were issued with air pollution warnings at shortly after 15:00 yesterday afternoon in response to the readings.
Data published on the airqualityni.co.uk website, taken from the Derry Rosemount monitoring station, suggested that hourly particulate matter (PM10) concentrations had risen sharply throughout the day, topping 74µg/m³ by 13:00, before exceeding 86µg/m³ by 18:00.
Concentrations of fine particles (PM2.5) monitored at the same site also recorded similar spikes throughout the day, reaching 67µg/m³ at 13:00 and 84µg/m³ by 18:00, before beginning to drop later in the evening.
Data published this morning (Monday) suggest that particulate levels have returned to a lower level, with latest readings showing concentrations of 14µg/m³ for PM10 and 8µg/m³ for PM2.5 at 09:00.
In a release published by DAERA to highlight the incident, the Department called for residents to avoid burning solid fuels, and to consider reducing road travel.
The statement said: “During periods of High Air Pollution the symptoms of people with lung or heart disease may worsen. Healthy people are unlikely to experience any ill effects.
“Hourly updates on levels of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide are available on the Department’s website: www.airqualityni.co.uk and the Department’s freephone helpline 0800 556 677, which also offers health advice to those who may be particularly sensitive to air pollution.”