The air we breathe is failing to meet basic international standards at dozens of locations around the country, according to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Its annual air quality report found that while Ireland's air quality was generally good last year, there are concerning localised issues.

Air pollutants breached World Health Organization guidelines at 33 monitoring stations across Ireland.

The report was launched today to coincide with World Lung Day.

It said there are 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland per year which can be attributed to air pollution, according to latest estimates.

The report also showed Ireland's traffic-related nitrogen dioxide pollution is increasing and the levels of fine particulate matter in our air is also growing.

Dr Ciara McMahon, Director of the EPA's Office of Radiation Protection and Environmental Monitoring, said the findings of the report show the problem is right across the country.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr McMahon said the problem in Dublin "lies in traffic levels" while in other areas "the burning of solid fuel" in our towns, cities and villages is to blame.

The burning of solid fuel such as peat, wood and coal produces particles which can lodge deep into our lungs and harm other organs, and also in some cases lead to death, she said.

Dr McMahon said open fires in homes lead to very high levels of these particles both getting into our living room and into the air and our environment.

"That's why we see it particularly in towns and villages because you have an accumulation of what's coming out of everybody's houses."

She said the EPA has been expanding its network of stations and while there are 84 currently in place, they continue to roll out more stations which allows for more monitoring.

"As we do that, we see more locations where there are problems."

She said the monitoring is live and they can view it hour by hour.

One observation they have made is that in towns such as Letterkenny, Ennis and Eniscorthy, when it gets to the evening they see an "increase way above the levels that the World Health Organization recommends" because people are lighting their fires when they get home.

She said along with lighting fires, stoves too can prove harmful and it is important people know to buy an eco-designed one as they can have 80% lower emissions.

Following its latest findings, the EPA said it is calling for the "feasibility of not just banning smoky coal in urban areas but also all smoky fuels" which emit particles above a certain level.

It said the ban on smoky coal in Dublin in 1990 was very effective and saved over 10,000 lives.

"It was brought in as there was a clear incidence, every time when there was smog in the 1970s and 1980s, the hospitals would see admissions."