Air pollution is to blame for around 1,200 deaths every year, the Environmental Protection Agency has said.
The watchdog's sixth State of the Environment Report has found we are losing much of what is positive, beautiful and economically valuable about Ireland.
The EPA also warned that we are beginning to see how vulnerable the country is to climate change as an island nation.
The watchdog's report stated that pollution of our air from vehicles or burning fuels will soon be seen as being on a par with tobacco smoking - with exposure to particulate matter blamed for 1,200 premature deaths every year.
“Overall, there are many positives in the Report and people can take heart from those” said Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA.
“Relative to our European neighbours, our water quality is broadly good. So is our air quality.
“But when you get into the detail, you see that at local level, there are many worrying signals warning us that we are in danger and we need to act with a much greater sense of urgency.
“A healthy environment is essential for the health of our population and for economic success. We have made progress in many areas over the last 20 years, but we are still losing much of what is positive, beautiful and economically valuable about our environment.
“ We are now seeing how vulnerable we are to climate change as an island nation. Our air quality may rate well by European standards but there is no safe level of air pollution.
“In years to come, the pollution of our air from vehicles or burning fuels will be seen as being on a par with tobacco smoking.
“It has direct health consequences with over 1,200 premature deaths every year from exposure to particulate matter in Ireland.”