Armagh has been named as one of the most polluted cities in the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) measures air quality on particulate matter and has set a number of levels.
Eleven towns and cities across the UK and Ireland breach its level for what is known as PM10. And more than 40 do not meet the guidelines and breach the safe PM2.5 level.
According to the WHO: “Air pollution is a major cause of disease and death.”
In Armagh, air pollution levels are monitored at no less than 12 stations.
One of these – at Lonsdale Road – monitors nitrogen dioxide and PM10 on a continual basis.
At Lonsdale Road this morning (Thursday) – as the WHO released its findings – the reading of PM10 was listed as “low”.
But Armagh remains on the list of over 40 and therefore as being one of the most polluted.
It sits alongside other towns and cities such as Glasgow, Birmingham, London, Cardiff, Manchester and Liverpool.
And closer to home, also included on the list, are Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Dublin, Longford and Bray.
Just last month, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan announced a cash investment of £12,240 specifically for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to support its air quality work.
The WHO database – now covering 3000 cities in 103 countries – has nearly doubled, with more cities measuring air pollution levels and recognising the associated health impacts.
As urban air quality declines, WHO says the “risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them”.
The organisation also reports that more than than half of the monitored cities in high-income countries and more than one-third in low- and middle-income countries had actually reduced their air pollution levels by more than five per cent in five years.
Reducing industrial smokestack emissions, increasing use of renewable power sources, like solar and wind, and prioritising rapid transit, walking and cycling networks in cities are among the suite of available and affordable strategies, WHO insists.
*Picture for illustration purposes only