Senate Inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia
In November 2012, the Australian Senate referred the issue of the Impacts on Health of Air Quality in Australia to its Community Affairs Committee for inquiry. The inquiry has the following terms of reference:
The impacts on health of air quality in Australia, including:
(a) particulate matter, its sources and effects
(b) those populations most at risk and the causes that put those populations at risk
(c) the standards, monitoring and regulation of air quality at all levels of government, and
(d) any other related matters.
The EPA made a submission to the inquiry (epasenateapsub.pdf, 1.43MB) and also provided supplementary information on some issues:
to the submission by the Hunter Community Environment Centre (resphuntcomenvt.pdf, 41KB)
The air quality monitoring network operated by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) informs the public about air quality by updating the regional air quality index (RAQI) hourly, providing 24-hour summaries, reporting monthly RAQI values and annual exceedances. It also allows the public to search the air quality database.
Many substances in the air may impair human health as well as the health of plants and animals and reduce visibility. Urban air pollution arises from emissions from motor vehicles, major industry, commercial operations and domestic activities.
OEH encourages and supports industry and the broader community to adopt cleaner air practices through a range of education and clean air initiatives. The agency's role includes gathering information on urban air quality to keep people informed and as a basis for appropriate responses to air-related issues.
NSW State of the Environment 2012 provides a comprehensive report on air quality in NSW: see Chapter 2 - Atmosphere.
State Government community research has consistently found air quality to be a key environmental issue for NSW residents: see Who Cares About the Environment in 2012?
The Clear the Air web portal is an online resource on air quality in NSW and provides examples of how we can all make a contribution to reducing air pollution.
The NSW Air Emissions Inventory quantifies emissions from the five main sources of air pollution - domestic, commercial, industrial, off-road mobile and on-road mobile.
Action for Air is an air quality management plan that contains strategies and actions to reduce emissions from transport, industrial, commercial and domestic sources to control two main air pollutants: photochemical smog and fine particle pollution.
The National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality (AAQ NEPM) sets the national health-based air quality standards for six air pollutants and, under the NSW State Plan, air quality targets for NSW are to meet NEPM standards by 2008.
AAQ NEPM - Monitoring Plan for NSW was prepared in accordance with the AAQ NEPM and outlines the monitoring which will be undertaken in NSW to determine compliance with the Standards and Goals of the AAQ NEPM.
Annual Compliance Reports against the AAQ NEPM summarise NSW compliance with the air quality goals and standards.
Emissions standards to better protect human health and the environment were revised in amendments to the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010.
Approved Methods for the Sampling and Analysis of Air Pollutants in NSW lists the statutory methods that are to be used to sample and analyse air pollutant emissions from stationary sources and from motor vehicles; components in, and properties of, petroleum products; and pollutants in ambient air.
Cost Curves for Abatement of Air Emissions use estimated costs and predicted emission reductions to rank potential actions to reduce emissions of particles, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the NSW Greater Metropolitan Region.
Load-based licensing (LBL) applies the 'polluter pays' principle which introduces a market-based mechanism to control, reduce and prevent air and water pollution in NSW.
DustWatch reports on the extent and severity of wind erosion by measuring dust concentration and observing visibility.
Potential Measures to reduce air pollution from NSW Ports: A preliminary study undertaken by PAEHolmes - the study provided background to support consultation with industry stakeholders on potential measures to reduce port emissions.
OEH toolkits help local councils play an important role in regulating and reducing local sources of air pollution:
- The local government air quality toolkit provides local councils with information on the sources and impacts of air pollution, the regulatory framework for protecting air quality in NSW, and air quality management procedures and technologies.
- The woodsmoke pollution toolkit assists councils to develop and run local community education campaigns to reduce smoke emissions from wood heaters.
Page last updated: 24 April 2013