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Challenges To Environment & Public Health Require Aggressive, Coherent Action.

Ireland is living beyond its carbon and environmental means. If we begin to start the necessary change now, we can also start to imagine a better future.

Section of River Suir, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, as observed on September 19th 2019.

EPA’s body of scientific evidence serves as a national asset for the public good.

Ms Laura Burke, [Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)], informed the 15th Annual Environment Ireland Conference today that Ireland is living beyond its carbon and environmental means. Ms Burke also said that the climate emergency we face is something that has been well flagged by evidence from scientists worldwide, including the EPA.

“It is now accepted globally that we are facing a climate emergency but it has not arrived suddenly or without warning. The build-up of pollutants in our atmosphere and waters, the gradual loss of biodiversity, the contamination of land – these are insidious, incremental challenges to our environment and health that have been borne out by scientific evidence, including that of the EPA, for many years. What we now need is urgent transformational change based on what the evidence is telling us.”

Section of River Suir, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, as observed on September 19th 2019.

Opening the conference, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Mr Richard Bruton T.D. stated,
“The Climate Action Plan is our roadmap to step up our response to climate disruption. It will ensure we meet our 2030 climate commitments. It will mean warmer homes, cleaner air and healthier lives. It will put our economy on a more sustainable path for future generations. We must now take urgent action and implement the policies we have committed to. It is a rolling plan, designed to integrate best practice as it emerges and adapt to emerging new technologies.”

Ms Burke challenged both the public and policy-makers to step up to the challenge and take action, saying by doing so we can imagine a better future.
“It is up to us – as individuals – to take ownership of environmental issues and take action, both in our personal and business lives. Actions on a personal level to reduce carbon consumption have the associated benefits of healthier lives, better air quality and more local connection and engagement. We need to use our power as individuals to ask questions, and to support those who are addressing issues and genuinely trying to make a difference.”

On the importance of strong evidence, Ms Burke continued:
“One of the EPA’s primary functions is using scientific evidence to protect and improve our natural environment and human health – this knowledge is a key national resource. The EPA recognises the significant responsibility for producing such evidence. There are real implications for environmental, human health and economic outcomes determined through such responsibilities. Not least of which is our role is providing evidence-based contributions to national policy making. The EPA has, over the last 25 years, built up critical national data, which now serves as a national asset for the public good.”

Ms Burke also cautioned that the challenges remain substantial and could be considered overwhelming. She noted an enduring risk of eco-fatigue, and more worrying, a growing eco-anxiety in our youth. She challenged those in attendance to find ways to match the uncomfortable evidence with optimism for the future.
“All of us have a responsibility to not alone bring forward the uncomfortable evidence, but to also build optimism through the identification of solutions, the celebration of successes, the embracing of necessary change, and delivering on commitments. And if we can use this power to propel the change necessary, we can begin to imagine a better future for ourselves, our children and generations to come.”


Air Quality Report On World Lung Day

World Lung Day 2019

Today, September 25th, 2019, marks World Lung Day, a day for advocacy and action, and an opportunity for everyone to promote better lung health globally.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today launched its annual Air Quality report, on World Lung Day. The report shows that while air quality complied with the legal limits, the World Health Organization’s health-related guideline values were not being met.

Air quality impacts people’s health and there are an estimated 1,180 premature deaths here in Ireland, per year, due to air pollution. Levels of particulate matter (fine particles) in our air remains a growing concern.

Levels of this pollutant are particularly high during the winter months when people’s use of solid fuels, such as coal, peat and wood impacts negatively on air quality, especially in small towns and villages.

The EPA report notes that any movement along the spectrum of home heating choices and solid fuel choices towards cleaner modes will have a subsequent improvement on air quality.

In urban areas, transport related emissions of nitrogen dioxide are increasing, and it looks probable that Ireland will exceed the EU annual legal limit value for nitrogen dioxide in the near future.

In launching the report, ‘Air Quality in Ireland 2018’, Dr Micheál Lehane, Director of the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection & Environmental Monitoring, has stated;

“We all expect that the air we breathe is clean, but we cannot take this for granted. Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health, so it is now time to tackle the two key issues that impact negatively on air quality in Ireland – transport emissions in large urban areas and emissions from burning of solid fuels. The choices we make affect the levels of pollution in the air we breathe. We need to decarbonise our public transport system and in general reduce our reliance on internal combustion vehicles. Moving to cleaner ways of heating our homes will also significantly improve air quality in our towns and cities.”

Dr Ciara McMahon, EPA Programme Manager has stated;

“The EPA’s air quality monitoring has shown that, while Ireland’s air quality complied with the EU legal standards in 2018, the levels of fine particles in the air we breathe did not meet the World Health Organization’s guideline values. Our monitoring also showed that in urban areas, the impact of traffic-related nitrogen dioxide pollution is increasing. These pollutants have a negative impact on people’s health and that is why we are continuing to install more monitoring stations across the country under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme. This programme has now more than doubled the number of real-time monitoring stations providing air quality data across Ireland since 2017.”

The EU has introduced and implemented a range of legal instruments to improve air quality, these standards are still not in line with the tighter WHO air quality guidelines. The EPA has previously called for movement towards the adoption of these stricter guidelines, as legal and enforceable standards across Europe and in Ireland.

The Air Quality in Ireland 2018 report is available on the EPA website. The EPA continually monitors air quality across Ireland and provides the air quality index for health and real-time results online at www.airquality.epa.ie. Results are updated hourly on the website, and people can log on at any time to check whether the current air quality is good, fair or poor.


Calls For A Ban On Vaping

L-R: President of Limerick University, Professor Dr. Desmond Fitzgerald & leading heart Consultant Professor Dr. Sherif Sultan.

Dr. Desmond Fitzgerald (President of the University of Limerick; professor of molecular medicine and former chief academic officer for the Ireland East Hospital Group), is urging the Department of Education to ban Vaping across all Irish educational institutions.

Dr. Fitzgerald has warned that Vaping; latter the practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device, is a real health risk and is being directly implicated in health crises and even deaths among those using the product.

Limerick University banned vaping and smoking on campus in 2018 and is currently the only University campus in Ireland to have initiated such a regulation.

Dr. Fitzgerald has critized ‘big business’ whom he correctly states are using aggressively marketing to push flavoured vaping products on young people, in particular. In calling for a ban, the professor strongly believes that we should waste no further time in mounting a robust challenge to these forces.

President of the International Society for Vascular Surgery, Professor Sherif Sultan, latter a leading heart consultant based in the Galway Clinic, has described e-cigarettes as “the disaster of the century” and the products are he claims “more dangerous than smoking and booze combined.”

Professor Sultan is now calling on the Health Minister Simon Harris to step in, before it’s too late, to ban the use of e-cigs with immediate effect.

Professor Sultan claims that “When Micheál Martin (Fianna Fáil leader) brought in the smoking ban some 15 years ago, it was the best thing that ever happened to this country, and now the present Health Minister needs to act similarly. This is an epidemic that must stop immediately. E-cigarettes are like a fashion accessory to young people, who fail to realise the amount of toxins in e-cigarettes. We have to warn people because many are under the impression this habit is safe”.

Professor Sultan joins Dr. Desmond Fitzgerald in his stance, calling on the Minister for Education and Skills to immediately institute a ban on vaping and smoking in any institution which is in receipt of Exchequer funds.

Already, internationally, (A) New York and Michigan have introduced a ban on flavoured vaping products. The US Senator Mr Mitt Romney has published legislation to prohibit flavoured vaping products and to apply cigarette taxes to vaping devices.
(B) India has announced a ban on the production, importation and sale of electronic cigarettes.

“We are facing into unchartered territories and the Irish health system cannot cope”, Professor Sultan continued.


New Bus Route Connecting Thurles With Limerick

A new daily Local Link bus service route, (391) in conjunction with the National Transport Authority, will connect Thurles (Departing Thurles Railway Station) with Limerick, beginning its service on Monday next, September 23rd.

Thurles – Limerick New Local Link Bus Timetable

This route will include stops in Ballycahill; Upperchurch; Kilcommon; Rearcross; Newport; Knockbrack; University College Limerick (UL), haulting at Authors Quay.

Same is expected to bring about a permanent enhancement and a long-term transport solution to meet the needs of 3rd level students, city and town shoppers and other visiting commuters, living in these rural areas.

The first daily service will depart from Thurles at 7:00am, while the last daily service will depart at 4:00pm.

The first return bus service (Departing Author’s Quay) from Limerick will leave at 8.50am, with the last service departing this same return Limerick – Thurles route at 5.50pm.

Note: All services will be in operation seven days a week, including Bank Holiday Mondays.


Community Well-Being Vision Being Developed For Thurles, Templemore & Roscrea

Ms Sharon Melbourne Administrator with Tipperary Public Participation Network reports:-

Tipperary PPN (Public Participation Network)

The Tipperary Public Participation Network (PPN) is a collective representation of groups involved in community development, social inclusion and environment, here in Co. Tipperary.

Established in 2014, the PPN provides the community voice on Tipperary County Council committees. It also runs training courses for member groups and shares information about funding and activities.

Tipperary PPN is very excited to be part of the pilot community well-being project. We are currently running community meetings in each Municipal district.

What do we need for the well-being of the communities of Thurles, Templemore and Roscrea?

The immediate question being posed by Tipperary PPN is, “What do we need for the well-being of the communities of Thurles, Templemore and Roscrea areas?” Tipperary PPN want to hear from all the groups and organisations in this area. Developing a vision for community well-being, means thinking about what we have and what we need to assist in these areas, so that together we can strive for further magnitude and pre-eminence for all of us and for the many generations that will follow on after us. One aspect that everyone can agree on is that we would like our communities to be the very best they can be.

Tipperary PPN are delighted to be rolling out this new National Initiative on Community well being. “Our well being is affected by many things; the economy, the environment, services etc” explained Ms Avril Wilson PPN Co-ordinator, “and the well-being of the community affects everyone within it. We really want to hear from the groups and organisations on the ground and what is important to them”.

Groups will also be able to feed in online. All information gleaned will be coordinated and used to influence policy and guide the work of the PPN and its representatives in working towards in achieving the community goals.

Getting involved
The community consultation meeting for this stated area will take place on Wednesday, September 25th 2019 in Borrisoleigh Parish Community Centre, Pallas Street, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary [ E41 FF84 ] from 6:00pm.

If you would like to find out more, or your organisation operating in these community areas aforementioned would like to participate in the consultation on community well-being, please contact the PPN office on Tel: 0504 61014 or email us at coordinator@ppntipperary.ie.

To register to attend this event, please click here HERE to register.