Air Quality Statement to show continuing good rating for NSW

Air quality in NSW is continuing its positive trend, with early key results from the Annual Air Quality Statement showing NSW has experienced an overall ‘good’ rating across the state for the fifth consecutive year.

View of Illawarra coastline from Sublime Point lookout in Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area

In 2017, the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded a combination of ‘very good’, ‘good’ and ‘fair’ days for 89 percent of the time in the state’s capital city Sydney.

Across the south-west slopes, the Illawarra and in all other areas a combination of ‘very good’, ‘good’ and ‘fair’ was recorded between 96 to 100 percent of the time. The overall results were impacted by isolated days of high dust levels and smoke.

Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science at the Office of Environment and Heritage Matthew Riley said the data, to be included in the annual Air Quality Statement due in January, compare favourably to international standards.

“This year we’ve had mostly good air quality across the board with the exception of a few days of poor ratings which we expected given the localised events and weather conditions at the time,” Mr Riley said.

“There were record temperatures, and it was very dry at the end of winter and coming into spring which contributed to lower AQI ratings in certain regions,” he added.

In summer air quality can deteriorate rapidly with a major bushfire, or if hot conditions create ground level ozone – a colourless gas which can irritate the lungs.

The NSW Air Quality Monitoring Network produces hourly updates and forecasts based on data from a network of 43 stations dotted across the state.

Those who have asthma or respiratory conditions are encouraged to sign-up for the alerts which are generated when the AQI exceeds 100 and is classed as ‘poor’.

“While the report this year shows our air is good for a vast majority of the time, we also need to be aware it can change quickly, especially in bushfire and storm season,” Mr Riley said.

“Our SMS alerts are the fastest way to access accurate information about the quality of the air we’re breathing.

“You can use the forecasts and alerts to plan ahead and ensure you’re well-prepared for current and expected conditions, especially when you’re travelling or out for the day.

“It’s really easy to register, anyone can sign up to the system to receive information via either SMS or email,” he said.

You can subscribe to air quality updates.

The fifth annual NSW Air Quality Statement is a summary of overall air quality which is modelled on the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statements. The Statement is released each year in January.