Air quality basics

Air quality refers to the degree to which the air is suitable or clean enough for humans or the environment.

Good air quality means the air is free of harmful substances. Air quality in NSW is rated using air quality categories (AQC) which rate the amount of pollution in the air based on airborne concentrations of major pollutants – the higher the AQC rating, the poorer the air quality. See details about the air quality categories.

In New South Wales we report air quality categories (AQC) based on visibility and 6 major airborne pollutants:

  • ground-level ozone
  • carbon monoxide
  • sulfur dioxide
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • particulate matter as PM10 and PM2.5.

Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air that are detrimental to human health and the environment. Poor air quality and health are closely linked. The World Health Organisation estimates that air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk, killing up to 1 in 9 people globally.

We monitor outdoor (ambient) air pollution in our monitoring network. Find out what pollutants we measure, their health effects, and measurement methods we use in our network.