Northern Ireland has announced changes to the Air Pollution Alert Protocol to improve public awareness during periods of high air pollution.
The updated system has been a joint effort between the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department of Health (DoH).
Changes will include the use of social media to disseminate information about high levels of air pollution to the public, health professionals and those in high-risk groups.
It comes in addition to DAERA’s existing SMS alert service, Air Quality NI website and Mobile App.
Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister said: ‘With the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting our daily lives, it is more important than ever to ensure that the public is alerted as soon as possible to forecast or actual High Air Pollution events.
‘The revised protocol utilises social media to get this information out to the public at a greater pace and inform a larger proportion of the population.
‘Interest in the quality of the air we breathe has grown massively over recent years, and the improvement of this alert system allows people with underlying health issues, such as heart and lung conditions or asthma, to get more localised information when they need it.’
Health Minister Robin Swann has encouraged the public to sign up to receive alerts by downloading the NI Air app.
Robin Swann said: ‘If you suffer from, or care for anyone with health conditions that may be exacerbated by high air pollution events I would urge you download the ‘Northern Ireland Air’ Mobile App, which offers a service that sends a notification to the user’s mobile phone when levels of elevated pollutants are detected or the air quality forecast has identified elevated levels of pollutants.’
The Northern Ireland Air App can be downloaded from both the Android and iPhone App stores by searching ‘Northern Ireland Air’.