epalogoImpact of NO2 on health with particular emphasis on vulnerable groups


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logoA team of engineers, hospital consultants and environmental scientists from Trinity College Dublin are collaborating on a new EPA funded project to examine the impacts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on health and quality of life.  NO2 is primarily a pollutant generated by traffic and breathing it can irritate the airways, aggravating respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, leading to coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.  Although it is possible that, to some extent, NO2 acts as a marker for the effects of other traffic-related pollutants, the epidemiological and mechanistic evidence elsewhere now suggests that it would be sensible to regard NO2 as causing some impact on health and quality of life.  Research on this topic is particularly important in the context of very significant challenges across Europe in meeting targets for the reduction of NOx emissions from the transport sector.children

The TCD team will assess how the recent findings elsewhere in relation to the associations between NO2 and health impacts pertain to Ireland, with particular emphasis on vulnerable groups including children, the elderly and the socio-economically disadvantaged.  Using currently available air pollution measurements, and recent research results on the influence of meteorological and source parameters (including transport vehicle and population mobility demands), they will identify a set of characteristics for the locations in Ireland that are at most risk of experiencing high levels of NO2.cars

They will also examine the HSE-Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) prescribing database to establish much needed baseline data linking NO2 levels with the prescription of drugs used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive airways disease with the intention to consider methodologies to facilitate the collection of prospective data in the future. 

elderlyOther databases, such as the Growing up in Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), subject to their availability, will be explored to investigate if relationships between prevalence of respiratory symptoms in vulnerable groups and NO2 levels exist.  Finally, the team will review policies and strategies being implemented by other countries to bring NO2 within compliance levels and identify a set of effective  and efficient solutions to reduce and mitigate the impact of the transport sector on NO2 levels in Ireland, given its predominance in the output of NO2 emissions.

Project Team: Prof Margaret O'Mahony, Prof Brian Broderick, Prof Martina Hennessy, Aonghus Ó Domhnaill

For further information, contact: margaret.omahony@tcd.ie

Acknowledgement: This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2021-2030. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

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