Pollution probe in Marlborough St. closed down after recording exhaust fume breaches

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An air quality monitor in Marlborough Street in Derry exceeded the recommended limits for Nitrogen Dioxide - a pollutant associated with exhaust fumes - before being closed down two years ago because the building it was in, had to undergo a major refurbishment, it’s been revealed.

The Marlborough Street probe exceeded both the annual mean European and United Kingdom air quality marks in 2015, the last year for which data was available, according to a new report published by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affair (DAERA).

The report reveals that the monitor in the Lone Moor area picked up higher levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, which some scientists believe can aggravate cardiovascular and respiratory diseases - before being shut down for the renovation works.

Environment Minister, Michelle McIlveen, quoted from the new report, stating: “In 2015, air pollution limit and target values were met for most air pollutants in Northern Ireland.

“However, the annual mean E.U. and/or U.K. Air Quality Strategy objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide (a pollutant associated with road traffic emissions) were exceeded at two sites – Belfast Stockman’s Lane and Derry’s Marlborough Street.

“In addition, although the E.U. Target value for benzo[a]pyrene – a pollutant associated with domestic solid fuel burning – was met at three monitoring sites here, the stricter U.K. Air Quality Strategy annual mean objective was not. The three sites are - Ballymena (Ballykeel), Londonderry (Brandywell) and Lisburn (Kilmakee).”

According to the report Marlborough Street, despite closing in early 2015, measured more than the 18 permitted exceedances of the hourly mean objective for Nitrogen Dioxide.

It was the only site in Northern Ireland to do so.

“It closed because the premises in which it was located was undergoing major refurbishment; while this is going on it is not safe to continue operating the site,” the report stated.

“Where data capture is less than 90 per cent, exceedance of the hourly mean limit value is judged on whether the 99.8th percentile of hourly values has exceeded 200 µg m-3 rather than the number of hourly means above the objective.

“This was only the case for one N. Ireland site: Londonderry Marlborough Street (which as noted above, measured more than 18 exceedances of the hourly mean objective despite only operating for part of the year).”