Pollution levels among north’s worst

Derry’s Waterside is one of eight pollution hotspots identified in a new government report examining air quality in the north.

The Northern Ireland Air Quality Monitoring report, published last week by the Department of Environment shows that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), exceeded safe levels during 2010 at the Dale’s Corner monitoring station.

Dale’s Corner - the junction of Glendermott Road, Limavady Road and Clooney Terrace - is one of the city’s busiest traffic routes and was made an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) last year by Derry City Council.

The new report shows that levels of NO2 exceed the European Union target level of 40mg per cubic metre - that level is also regarded by the World health Organisation as the safe limit.

The NO2 level during 2010 stood at 44mg.

Only NO2 levels at Belfast’s Stockman’s Lane and Newtonabbey’s Antrim Road were higher than the 2010 average at Dale’s Corner.

However the 2010 level shows a drop from the annual mean of 62mg in 2005.

Evidence suggests raised levels of the gas, which emanates from vehicle exhausts, is particularly harmful to people with existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, while epidemiological studies also suggest the gas can cause reduce lung function in the healthy population.

Environment minister Alex Attwood says the pollution hotspots “require additional measures to improve air quality.”

“District Councils submitted action plans to my Department setting out a range of actions aimed at improving air quality at those hotspots. My Department continues to support actions to improve local air quality.

“In 2010/11 £571,000 of funding was provided to District Councils under the Local Air Quality Management grant scheme to enable councils to invest directly in improving air quality within their districts.”

Last year a report undertaken by air quality specialist Bureau Veritas recommended a range of measures to cut NO2 levels in the Waterside that included realigning the Limavady Road, changing the traffic light sequence to allow more free flowing traffic and cutting the number of heavy goods vehicles that travel through Dale’s Corner.

More information on Derry’s air quality is available online at www.airqualityni.co.uk