Investigations into air, noise and water pollution, as well as radiation monitoring, are carried out by the Council's Environmental Health section.
The Environmental Health section has sited air pollution monitoring sites within the District to measure sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and smoke levels. These monitoring results are used to assess compliance with the standards and objectives set out in the National Air Quality Strategy for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Air Quality (NI) Amendment regulations 2003
All Councils now have to assess and, where necessary, monitor and limit air pollution. Down District Council has undertaken first and second stage reviews, and assessments of air pollution show that the district meets these Government Air Quality Targets. Nevertheless, pollution levels will continue to be monitored to ensure they stay below Government targets, and to allow action to be taken promptly, if levels should rise above acceptable levels.
Environmental Health, along with the Alkali and Clean Air Inspectorate, control the emissions of air pollutants, through a system of authorisations and permits, from certain industrial premises within the District.
Further reviews may indicate a need to expand the domestic smoke control programme. Currently there are three smoke control areas in Downpatrick.
The Environmental Health Section samples public and private water supplies in response to complaints regarding wholesomeness. It also routinely takes public and private leisure pool water samples to ensure that national quality and safety standards are maintained.
Down, along with all other district councils in Northern Ireland is a member of a nation-wide monitoring network known as LARNET (Local Authority Radiation Network) The network's aim is to provide quality assured independent information on radiation matters at a local level. As part of this a comprehensive monitoring and sampling programme for radiation is carried out by local councils.
Radiation monitors have been installed at ten locations throughout Northern Ireland, and these are designed to continuously check levels of radiation incident, action will be taken by Government here in the form of an emergency response plan prepared by the Northern ireland Office. District Councils will play an active role and provide support services as required.
The Council participates in a regional sampling programme to check radioactivity levels in foodstuffs and environmental samples. Tests on sand, fish, shellfish and seaweed show contamination from sources such as nuclear discharges, particularly from Sellafield, and fallout from nuclear weapon testing. Other samples such as meat, vegetables, grass have also shown contamination but levels of contamination are well within accepted safety standards. Natural sources such as radon are responsibile for higher radiation levels.
Radon is a radioactive gas, naturally occurs in the soil and rocks, which has no taste, smell or colour. It mixes with air and rises to the surface where it is quickly diluted into the atmosphere. In some circumstances when it enters enclosed spaces, such as houses, it can reach high levels of concentration. As radon decays, minute radioactive particles are formed which, when inhaled, can be deposited in the lungs and increases risks of developing lung cancer.
Parts of Down District, have been classified as radon affected areas. If your dwelling lies in one of these areas, where there is a greater than 10% chance of the action level of 200Bq/M3 being exceeded, then the Department of Environment will arrange for a test to be carried out free of charge.
You should contact Environmental and Heritage Service on 0 28 9085 4709 for further enquiries about the Radon Test.
The Environmental Health section of the Council on 0 28 9182 4052 can also be contacted for further information.
Advice on Radon can also be obtained from the NRPB Radon Freephone on 0800 614529.
Downshire Civic Centre
T: 028 4461 0823
Water Pollution Guide