Ambient air quality monitoring is sometimes necessary to show that local air quality is not adversely affected by proposed developments. The substances monitored typically include dust deposition, PM10, SOx, NOx and benzene. Environmental Efficiency can monitor these substances.

Ambient air refers to the air in a locality, basically the air we breathe.  This is sometimes referred to as local air quality.  The EU has set limits on a range of pollutants to ensure that air is fit to breathe, with the best quality.  The limits cover NOx (Nitrogen Dioxide), Lead, SOx (Sulphur Dioxide), two sizes of Particulate Matter (PM10, and PM2.5), benzene and carbon monoxide.

Assessing proposed developments

Industrial development can sometimes impact local or ambient air quality.  For example, the installation of a boiler will increase the level of Nitrogen Dioxide in the air.  If this does not cause a breach of the air quality monitoring standards then there is no issue.  However in some cases the emissions from the boiler stack when added to the background air quality will cause a breach.  If the local air quality is poor, then it may mean that the proposed development may not be allowed to proceed if it will result in a breach of the air quality standards.

Air dispersion modelling can be used to determine the impact of a proposed development on local air quality.  Many IPC or IED licence applications will need to be supported with an Air  Quality monitoring. Environmental Efficiency is able to carry out Air dispersion modelling using AERMOD and other softwares.

Dust Control: Air quality monitoring methods

This can include both long term and short term monitoring.  For example, PM10 and PM2.5 can be monitored using instruments that can be left on site for 30 days or more. Data can be downloaded remotely.  For monitoring of gases, long term diffusion tubes are often used. Lab analysis is required to determine results, after being left in place for 30 days.

Dust deposition is usually monitored through dust control in Ireland using Bergerhoff dust control gauges and in the UK with sticky pads.  Environmental Efficiency can undertake both types of monitoring.  Dust control is often required to be monitored at quarries, breakers yards and construction sites with Bergerhoff dust gauges.

What guidance is available?

The UK guide for air quality monitoring is the Environmental Agency’s M8 and M17 documents which are equivalents to the Irish documents EPA AG5 and AG6.