Residents living close to the M50 motorway could be at risk as a result of dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide, the EPA has warned.

A report from the Environmental protection Agency suggests parts of Dublin – including residential areas of Dublin 15 and Meakstown close to the ring road – are in danger of breaching EU safety limits.

Increased traffic volumes are believed to be the cause of the increase in the air pollutant, which poses serious health risks and is linked to asthma, emphysema and other respiratory conditions.

Its effects are felt most by those with asthma, children and the elderly and the EU limits are imposed with the aim of preventing acute ill health.

Green Party Cllr Roderic O’Gorman said the report is cause for concern for residents in estates beside the M50 including Laurel Lodge and others.

Cllr O’Gorman, who has lobbied for resurfacing along the motorway to tackle the ongoing issue of noise disturbance, said: “Specific monitoring needs to take place. I’ll be asking the Green Party TDs to raise this with the Minister for Environment.”

The report, published on Tuesday, shows that nitrogen dioxide levels are highest in traffic hot spots including city centre streets along the quays, the M50 and the entrance and exit of the Port Tunnel.

The EPA is now calling on the Government to tackle this issue, claiming there is a “need for strong, co-ordinated action by all the relevant authorities to improve air quality in Dublin”.

Nitrogen dioxide is a visual pollutant which creates a brown haze and leads to the formation of acid rain. Traffic emissions are its main source, along with heavy industry.

The EPA’s Dr Ciara McMahon said the report is a cause for concern, adding: “Traffic is the dominant source of nitrogen dioxide in our urban areas and the public must be supported in taking clean transport choices if we want to reduce nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the air we breathe.”

Fingal Cllr David Healy, Green Party spokesperson on climate, said that nitrogen dioxide is a serious issue in the capital and that investment in motorways like the M50 have only encouraged more cars to stay on the road.

He said: “We should revise the policy of promoting driving. We need to encourage people to walk, increase cycling infrastructure and invest in public transport.”

Environment Minister Richard Bruton has described the findings as “very concerning”.