Toxic fumes from Galway forest fire made local air quality as poor as in Beijing

Toxic fumes from Galway forest fire made local air quality as poor as in Beijing

11 May 2017

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Ireland –  Toxic fumes from the raging forest fire in Galway made local air quality as poor as the city of Beijing’s.

Parts of the Cloosh Valley, near Connemara, were decimated by the inferno, which caused plumes of noxious smoke to billow into the sky.

The World Health Organisation says 25 micrograms of particles per metre cubed is the healthiest level of air quality.

But the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at NUI Galway recorded pollution levels of 150 micrograms for several hours on Tuesday evening.

This is the same as the figure recorded in the industrial hub of Beijing, in China, on Wednesday. The bustling Asian city has a population of 21.5 million.

Dr Coleman also warned locals to stay indoors and avoid the smoke if possible.

She RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta: “All you can do is stay indoors, close the windows and wait for it to pass.”

TD Catherine Connolly claimed that the government had demonstrated a total lack of leadership and understanding in its handling or the gorse blaze.

Ms Connolly said: “Look at the damage done by the fire, the air pollution, houses in danger, and the danger to the community, and the government is too busy fighting about their next leader to demonstrate leadership and to instil confidence.

“Why did no senior minister travel to Galway? What kind of plan, if any, was in place to deal with an emergency like this?”

Ms Connolly was speaking after a forestry group urged the Government to enforce a law on gorse fires as emergency response teams continued to battle a devastating blaze on Wednesday.

The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association called for a crackdown on those behind criminal and reckless blazes which sparked the destruction in Cloosh Valley.

Director Mark McAuley said: “The fires are causing huge economic and environmental damage and pose serious health and safety risks.

“Valuable resources are being destroyed, livelihoods threatened and important wildlife habitat decimated.

“A clear signal must be sent out that any activity that causes the outbreak of a wildfire will not be tolerated and the law will be enforced.”

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