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Hunter data analysed in 2014 Air Quality Statement

Media release: 13 January 2015

Air quality across NSW was better in 2014 compared to 2013, detailed analysis of data from the NSW Government’s network of air monitoring stations shows.

Office of Environment and Heritage Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science, Mr Matt Riley, said OEH had today released an Annual Air Quality Statement summarising 12 months of data from across its 43 air quality monitoring stations.

“Across NSW air quality was better in 2014 than 2013, which is largely because of a less severe bushfire season,” Mr Riley said.

“Twenty of the state’s air quality monitoring stations are in the Hunter, with three new stations added in the Newcastle Port area and a new PM2.5 monitor installed at the Newcastle station during 2014.”

Mr Riley said data recorded in the Hunter in 2014 reflected results across the entire network. Air quality in the Lower Hunter was better than in the Upper Hunter and comparable to air quality in both Sydney and Wollongong.

“In general the data shows that air quality across the region and across NSW is good.

However there are dust related impacts recorded at small community diagnostic sites in the Upper Hunter, which are particularly exacerbated during windy, dry weather.”

Monitoring at larger population centres in the Hunter Valley during 2014 showed that:

  • Daily PM10 standards were exceeded on four days in total during 2014 – compared to 16 in 2013. These events were all from October to December when the region saw above average temperatures but average rainfall.
  • The maximum daily PM10 average was 54.5 micrograms per cubic metre recorded at Singleton on 17 December during the passage of a large-scale dust storm that originated from the Mallee in inland south-western NSW.
  • The advisory reporting standard for daily PM2.5 was exceeded on four days. The maximum daily PM2.5 average was 31.6 micrograms per cubic metre recorded at Camberwell (a small community site) on 4 November, when smoke from bushfires caused widespread particle pollution throughout the region.
  • Annual average PM2.5 levels were above the advisory reporting standard at Newcastle (8.1 micrograms per cubic metre) and Muswellbrook (9.7 micrograms per cubic metre).
  • During 2014 there were 26 days when the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network recorded PM10 levels above the benchmark (50 micrograms per cubic metre), compared to 48 days during 2013. Eighty-nine per cent of these days occurred exclusively at stations designated as small community or diagnostic sites – such as Camberwell, Jerrys Plains, Maison Dieu and Singleton North West.

The Hunter community can find out more about local air quality data and subscribe to Air Pollution Alerts at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/subscribe.htm.

The full 2014 summary report is available at: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/150004nswairqual14.htm

Contact: Roger Bell

Page last updated: 13 January 2015