Young people from across Meath were on hand for a workshop on Thursday, January 18, to measure, discuss, and learn about air pollution and its effects on health and wellbeing in Trim.
Working with researchers, councillors and project leaders from Meath Climate Action, attendees learned the alarming fact that six cases of asthma, four cases of diabetes and three cases of stroke are believed to occur each year in Trim, across a population of just 9,000 people. As well as the human cost of this illness, these illnesses are estimated to cost the HSE more than €210,000 every year.
This comes as the Meath Environmental Platform, a new resource for the people of Co. Meath, launches for general use. Trim residents and those from further afield can access hyperlocal air pollution information from two sensors in the town (on Market Street and Patrick Street), along with insights on traffic levels and their health consequences, as well as the best and worst times of day for air quality.
During the workshop, young people learned how they can use the platform to take action and promote change. That can mean knowing the times of day when air pollution is highest as well as understanding how different parts of the town are affected. For instance, Patrick Street, home to four schools, has high levels of vehicle-related nitrogen dioxide air pollution around drop-off and pick-up times.
Anne O’Brien, Project Lead, Meath County Council, said, “The Trim Air Quality Project has allowed us to monitor air quality and assess the health impacts, disseminate this information to local stakeholders, enable behavioural change, improve air quality and health, and reduce emissions. Due to our continuous air quality monitoring, we can inform the local stakeholders of the improvement in air quality, showing the positive change, encouraging further action, and achieving a positive feedback loop.”
The Meath Environmental Platform integrates STRIAD:AIR, Trilateral Research’s AI solution to understand how air pollution affects health. STRIAD:AIR can model areas as small as a few hundred households, showing the effects of air pollution on diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and pulmonary disease. The tool can also model the costs of air pollution to the HSE and to society, showing how cutting pollution saves public money.
Dr Ruaraidh Dobson, Trilateral Research’s Programme Manager for Air Quality added, “Air pollution isn’t just a problem in Dublin – it takes a serious toll on health across Ireland. This project has let us see the invisible and understand how traffic, turf-burning, and other issues affect the air in Trim, as well as the burden air pollution places on the health service. By providing information on health, we want to show that action in your area, wherever you are, can make a difference and keep people healthy in your community.”