Air quality monitoring in regional and rural NSW

Our monitoring network in rural New South Wales includes several regional centres and incorporates over 30 stations from the Community DustWatch network.

Rural New South Wales covers many separate airsheds, and has a relatively low population density with no significant industrial sources of pollution. Our monitoring in rural NSW comprises two networks, one focussed on regional town centres, and another from the DustWatch network which covers the broader region including various remote locations. Download the network site information (XLSX 33KB).

  • During the 2017 NSW Clean Air Summit, the Environment Minister stated the government’s commitment to expanding air quality monitoring in the state, to address the need for improved air quality and enhanced understanding of air pollution exposure across the breadth of the state. 
  • The Minister announced that the NSW Community DustWatch network will become the first rural NSW air quality monitoring network from 1 January 2018. The next phase of expansion will include PM10 and PM2.5 monitoring at Armidale, Orange, Goulburn and North Coast centres such as Coffs Harbour.
  • DustWatch is a citizen-science program that gathers data about dust storms to monitor wind erosion and help care for land and soils. While still retaining this role, the network is being modified to better measure air quality across rural NSW.

Regional centres

We monitor air quality at several regional centres in New South Wales: Gunnedah and Narrabri (in the Namoi region), Bathurst and Orange (on the Central Tablelands), Tamworth (Northwest Slopes), Albury (Southwest Slopes), Armidale (Northern Tablelands) and Wagga Wagga (Southwest Slopes).  

The Gunnedah and Narrabri stations are part of the local Namoi Air Quality Monitoring Network, which is operated by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. 

We monitor fine particles PM10 and PM2.5 as well as meteorological variables. Data from the regional sites are reported hourly, as concentrations and AQI values.

The Rural Air Quality Monitoring Network

The DustWatch network has transitioned into the Rural Air Quality Monitoring Network, managed by Climate and Atmospheric Science, and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. There are over 30 rural sites across western NSW, and across the border into South Australia and Victoria (where source areas affect NSW).

We monitor particulate matter concentrations in the following size fractions: TSP or Total Suspended Particles (particles less than 100 micrometers in diameter); PM10 (particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter); and PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter). Particulate monitors currently used in this network do not comply with Australian Standards and provide indicative measurements only. This facilitates a cost-effective and easy-to-operate community based network. Instrument accuracy is being investigated and selected stations will be upgraded to meet Australian Standards.

Particulate matter concentrations from the rural network sites are reported hourly, expressed as mass of particulate matter (micrograms) per cubic metre of air (µg/m3).

Reporting

For the regional sites we provide hourly updated concentrations and an Air Quality Index (AQI). You can also find historical air quality information on the regional centres in Department's annual air quality monitoring reports

Air quality newsletters are published for the Namoi /North-west Slopes region.

For the Rural Air Quality Monitoring Network, you can find hourly updated particle concentrations here. You can also contribute to the Community DustWatch program by submitting observations.