Air pollution

Significant study shows extent of air pollution problem

Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey has warned that polluted, poisonous air across our towns and cities is contributing to illness and early death for many people.

The warning comes as an investigation by Green Party NI activist groups across Belfast and Ards & North Down returned results dangerously high levels of N02 pollution breaching legal limits at almost 30 sites.

The groups monitored levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for several weeks, providing a snapshot of NO2 pollution. NO2 is a toxic gas which inflames the lining of the lungs. The legal annual limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) but there are no safe levels of exposure to air pollution.

The air quality samples were collected using diffusion tubes situated at over 100 sites then processed and analysed by an independent laboratory. At present, DAERA test air quality at 18 sites across Northern Ireland with nine in the greater Belfast area.

The results found levels of NO2 pollution breaching legal limits at 29 sites across Belfast and North Down. Particularly high readings were recorded outside the Royal Victoria Hospital and at the Belfast Metropolitan College Millfield Campus.

Clare Bailey MLA commented on the results:

“This is an important study alerting us to an air pollution emergency across Belfast and beyond. Clean air is a human right but many of us are breathing in heavily polluted and poisonous air each and every day.

“Air pollution is often invisible with residents in heavily polluted areas not realising the extend of the problem and the resulting health impacts. Some of the most concerning levels of NO2 were recorded across inner city working class communities, with heavy traffic prevalent.

“The scientific evidence on the effects of air pollution is well documented and mounting. Respiratory symptoms, asthma prevalence and certain types of cancer can all be attributed to air pollution. Moreover, new studies have linked the problem with dementia and complications during pregnancy.

“Urgent action is required to address this public health emergency. NO2 pollution is closely linked with vehicle emissions, particularly diesel engines. A green transport strategy aimed at reducing the number of vehicles on our roads and increasing access to public transport is long overdue.

“The Department must also commit to increased air quality monitoring. Eighteen testing sites across Northern Ireland is inadequate. Communities are suffering from the poisonous effects of air pollution often without realising the harmful effects of the air they are breathing.

“I also want to see the introduction of a Clean Air Act which enshrines clean air as a human right and updates the legislation for modern fuels and technologies to reduce harmful air emissions and protect human health and the environment.”


Media contact

Sinead McIvor – 07701 302 498


1.      The independent laboratory Gradco were used to monitor and analyse ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO 2) concentrations. The testing process involves the installation of small, low cost diffusion tubes which are sent to Gradco labs for analysis.

2.      The tubes measure nitrogen dioxide which inflames the lining of the lung and reduces immunity to lung infections such as bronchitis<>.

3.      Legally binding, health based limit values have been set for several air pollutants by the European Union since 1999. EU legal limits for NO2 should have been met by 2010, or 2015 at the latest with an extension. The European Union have set a legal mean annual limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at 40µg/m3.

4. Results table

Location PostcodeResultCouncil
Millfield – Belfast Met College BT164.08Belfast
Grosvenor Road at Falls Rd, Royal Victoria HospitalBT12  60.56Belfast
Balmoral Avenue beside Balmoral cemeteryBT959.85Belfast
Malone Road at Stranmillis RoadBT951.57Belfast
Ormeau Avenue at Cromac StreetBT251.04Belfast
Lisburn Rd at Tate’s AvenueBT950.06Belfast
Boucher Road, at Tate’s AvenueBT949.84Belfast
Royal Avenue at Donegal StreetBT149.4Belfast
Ormeau Road at Annadale AvenueBT749.23Belfast
Glen Road at Kennedy WayBT11  49.14Belfast
Donegal Pass outside GasworksBT749.07Belfast
Kennedy Way outside MacDonalds BT11  48.13Belfast
Lanyon Place StationBT145.91Belfast
Carlisle CircusBT1545.19Belfast
Ormeau Road at Rosetta RoundaboutBT744.89Belfast
Crumlin Road at Oldpark RdBT1444.83Belfast
Shaftesbury Square BT244.06Belfast
North Queen Street at Duncairn GardensBT1543.72Belfast
Belfast City Hall (at rear)BT143.51Belfast
Seahill Bus Stop Bangor BondBT1842.95Holywood and Clandeboye
Carrick Hill at Clifton StreetBT142.91Belfast
Antrim Road at Pim StreetBT1542.73Belfast
Forster Green HospitalBT841.79Belfast
Cregagh Road/Knock Road interchangeBT641.53Belfast
Ormeau Embankment at Ravenhill RoadBT641.49Belfast
Finaghy ShopsBT1041.4Belfast
Ormeau Road at University StreetBT741.05Belfast
 Upper Knockbreda Rd at St Bernards Primary SchoolBT640.99Belfast
Stranmillis Village roundaboutBT940.43Belfast
Queens University (University Road at former Students Union Building)BT739.4Belfast
Botanic Avenue at University StreetBT739.08Belfast
The Front, Shore RoadBT1838.11Holywood and Clandeboye
Lisburn Road, City Hospital BT937.98Belfast
Upper Lisburn Road, at St Anne’s Primary SchoolBT1037.28Belfast
Cregagh Road at Ardenlee AveBT637.1Belfast
Saintfield Road at Tesco ExpressBT836.76Belfast
Cliftonville Circus, Cliftonville RoadBT1436.63Belfast
York Road at Ritchie StreetBT1536.58Belfast
Holywood Train Station SubwayBT1836.32Holywood and Clandeboye
Princes Dock StreetBT135.08Belfast
Woodstock Road at Hillsborough DriveBT634.8Belfast
House of SportBT934.8Belfast
The MountBT534.48Belfast
Woodstock Road  BT834.3Belfast
War Memorial SubwayBT1833.91Holywood and Clandeboye
Ravenhill Road at Kids Korner Nursery BT633.45Belfast
Castlereagh Road at Ladas DriveBT533.08Belfast
 Great Victoria St outside Europa BT233.01Belfast
Newtownards RoadBT432.05Belfast
York Road at Midland TerraceBT1531.85Belfast
Church GreenBT16  31.39Belfast
Cregagh Rd at Hinsdale  ParkBT630.91Belfast
Crumlin Road at Mater HospitalBT1530.85Belfast
Ormeau Road at Annadale Embankment (Library)BT730.84Belfast
Sainsburys Garage ForestsideBT830.65Belfast
Castlereagh Road Tesco BT530.41Belfast
Bus Stop At Invergarry Ave A2BT1830.32Holywood and Clandeboye
Springhill Flyover / Old Belfast Road BT1929.66Bangor West
Winterock Junction, Springfield RoadBT12  29.65Belfast
Antrim Road, Fortwilliam ShopsBT1529.64Belfast
Sunnyside Street near Holy Rosary Primary SchoolBT729.34Belfast
Antrim Road at Donegal Pk AvenueBT1528.87Belfast
Ben Madigan School (off Antrim Road)BT1528.8Belfast
Cavehill Road at Westland RoadBT1528.53Belfast
Mount Vernon Road at Shore RoadBT1528.29Belfast
Upper NewtownArds Road at Ulster HospitalBT428.01Belfast
Bangor West Train Station Beside Helm Housing BT2027.71Bangor West
Whitewell Road at Greencastle Methodist ChurchBT36  27.51Belfast
Knock Road at Sandown RoadBT527.38Belfast
Airport Road West atHeron RoadBT3 27.27Belfast
Cleland Park Surgery / Newtownards RoadBT2026.78Bangor West
Knockbreda Road at Rosetta Primary SchoolBT626.75Belfast
Main Street /Castle Street /HamiltonBT2026.73Bangor Central
Castlereagh Road at Ladas DriveBT526.71Belfast
Castlereagh Rd at Orby StBT526.66Belfast
Antrim Road at Brookvale AvenueBT1526.55Belfast
Cliftonville Road at Cliftonville Integrated Primary SchoolBT1426.18Belfast
Oldpark Rd at Carr’s Glen Primary SchoolBT1425.86Belfast
Limestone Rd at Currie Primary SchoolBT1525.53Belfast
Whitewell Road at Arthur RoadBT36  25.18Belfast
Sullivan Upper School Bus StopBT1824.49Holywood and Clandeboye
Bryansburn Rd Roundabout / Grays Hill BT2024.33Bangor West
Belmont Road, Strethearn SchoolBT424.16Belfast
Gransha Rd Roundabout Corner Of Bellamount RdBT2024.15Bangor Central
Department For Education Building @Roundabout BT1923.66Bangor West
Bangor Cemetary / Old Belfast Road BT1923.63Bangor West
KFC Balloo Road / Balloo DriveBT1923.21Bangor Central
Savoy/Hamilton Road RoudaboutBT2023.08Bangor Central
Alexandra Park AvenueBT1522.58Belfast
Bangor Central Integrated Primary SchoolBT2020.72Bangor Central
Clandeboye Primary SchoolBT2020.61Bangor West
Holywood Primary School Hillview PlaceBT1820.04Holywood and Clandeboye
Old Dundonald RoadBT16  19.96Belfast
Antrim Road at St Therese of Lisieux Primary SchoolBT1519.41Belfast
Back Of Glenlola Collegiate / Blomfield RoadBT2019.12Bangor Central
Flax StreetBT1418.99Belfast
Donaghadee Road Roundabout Opp. Millbroke DriveBT2018.61Bangor Central
Carrs Glen Park, Ballysillan RoadBT1418.38Belfast
Seascape ParadeBT1518.27Belfast
St Malachys Primary SchoolBT1918.05Bangor West
Bangor Grammar Ps SchoolsideBT1918.04Bangor Central
Lansdown Park NorthBT1517.96Belfast
St Patricks Ps / Priory CollegeBT1817.61Holywood and Clandeboye
St Colmgalls P.S (Near Shop) BT2017.12Bangor West
Bloomfield Ps Bus Stop School SideBT1916.35Bangor Central
Rudolf Steiner School Woodcroft LaneBT1816.04Holywood and Clandeboye
Rathmore Primary School BT1915.78Bangor West
Ballyholme Ps @ Glenburn PlaceBT2014.74Bangor Central
Donegal Road near Railway BridgeBT12  12.76Belfast
Castle Park & Old Cavehill Road at Cavehill Primary SchoolBT1512.58Belfast
Lord Warden’s Road, Near AvenueBT1911.66Holywood and Clandeboye