High Air Pollution In Northern Ireland

High levels of air pollution (particulate matter) are currently being monitored in the Belfast area. Moderate levels of air pollution are being monitored in other urban centres across Northern Ireland.

The air quality forecast indicates that the pollution is likely to persist into  Friday, depending on weather conditions.

dn_screenThese pollution levels are the result of the cold, calm, foggy weather conditions we are currently experiencing which can lead to the build up of local emissions from vehicles and home heating.

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:


and the Department’s freephone helpline 0800 556 677 which also offers health advice to those who may be particularly sensitive to air pollution.

High air pollution forecast for Northern Ireland

Air pollution is described as “low (1-3)”, “moderate (4-6)”, “high (7-9)” or “Very High (10)” in relation to the presence of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone.

Classifications are based upon the pollutant in the highest band based upon the advice of the independent Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution.

Health Advice

The following advice on health applies when air pollution is “high” or “very high”.

When pollution is high, sensitive people may notice their symptoms worsen and may need to act to reduce the symptoms or their exposure to the pollution. Asthmatics will find that their symptoms will ease through use of their relief inhaler in the usual way advised by their doctor. Others affected by the pollution may wish to reduce the time they spend outdoors or avoid busy, congested streets. If symptoms persist, affected people should consult with their doctor.

Action individuals can take to reduce pollution

We can all contribute to reducing the current high levels by avoiding burning solid fuels if possible, by burning only smokeless fuels in smoke control areas. It is also important to avoid lighting bonfires while pollution levels are high.

Road vehicles are a major source of many pollutants in urban areas. Before using your car ask yourself – do I really need to make this journey? Do I really need to use the car, or could I walk or cycle?

If you must drive, switch off the engine if you expect to be stationary for more than a couple of minutes, and drive smoothly – it will save you fuel and money and you will emit less pollution.