Air quality research

Particle studies and modelling provide information on the composition and likely sources of fine particles in the air.

Particle characterisation and modelling studies provide additional information on the composition and likely sources of fine particles in the air. The Sydney Particle Study involved summer and autumn particle monitoring campaigns and established a secondary particle modelling framework. Data and modelling tools from this study are being used by OEH to develop its particle models to account for chemical transformation and secondary particle formation. This modelling will provide more evidence to guide the management of airborne particles in NSW in future years.

NSW State of the Environment 2012 provides a comprehensive assessment of air quality in NSW: see Chapter 2 - Atmosphere.

Current and Projected Air Quality in NSW shows that ambient concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide are all consistently below the respective national standards in most areas. However, concentrations of ozone in urban areas and PM10 in both rural and urban areas can exceed national standards.

Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant that is harmful to human health and vegetation. State of Knowledge - ozone (PDF 7.44MB) provides information on ozone events in the Sydney, the Illawarra, Lower Hunter (Newcastle) and Bathurst regions from 1994-2004.

PM10 and PM2.5 emissions are responsible for fine particulate matter entering the air from a wide range of industrial, transport and domestic sources. This is characterised by a brown atmospheric haze during the cooler months of the year. Particles can harm respiratory and circulatory health, especially in the young, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. For more information about fine particles and actions the NSW Government is taking to reduce their impacts, see Particulate matter (PM2.5).

Air Pollution Economics: Health costs in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Region (PDF 212KB) estimates the cost to health of ambient air pollution in the Greater Metropolitan Region of NSW, which includes Sydney, the Illawarra and lower Hunter. This information has been prepared to assist decision-making on proposals that have the potential to affect the GMR's air quality.

Recently, international concern has turned to a number of air pollutants, often referred to as air toxics. Though found in relatively small concentrations, air toxics have the potential to adversely affect human health and the environment through long-term exposure. These substances include a broad range of pollutants and scientific understanding of their identity and the risks they may pose is still evolving.

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Page last updated: 13 November 2015