Historical monitoring catalogue

Explore historical records of air quality monitoring activities we have carried out for special monitoring projects including air pollution incidents.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) supports the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) through providing air quality monitoring capability during incidents that impact air quality. Hourly updated data is reported on the DPIE Special Projects data webpage during such incidents.

This page is routinely updated to summarise recent incident monitoring activities, and other special contexts where air quality monitoring is conducted on request. See the Special Projects page for the broader context.

During the bushfire emergency of summer 2019–2020, DPIE commissioned several temporary emergency air quality monitoring stations in regional areas of New South Wales. See media release on our monitoring efforts during the bushfire emergency period.

Different types of air quality monitors were deployed to best meet the need for smoke monitoring during this emergency period:

  • Compliance air quality monitoring stations are our full-service air quality monitoring stations, which can measure nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, visibility and PM10, PM2.5, ambient temperature, humidity, wind direction and wind speed.
  • Rapid response pods are a portable version of our full-service air quality monitoring station, able to be deployed rapidly. These can measure the full range of parameters including: nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, visibility and PM10, PM2.5, ambient temperature, humidity, wind direction and wind speed.
  • DustTraks are multi-channel indicative monitors used for monitoring particles only. As these have lower power requirements than compliance instruments, they can be deployed rapidly using solar panels and batteries. DustTraks report Total Suspended Particles, PM10 and PM2.5.

At the end of the bushfire emergency period, the monitors continued to collect background air quality data. Since April 2020, some of these temporary stations have been decommissioned, while the majority have been retained as part of the state's network of long-term monitoring stations. These stations will help expand the state's network to provide air quality data where previously there has been no air quality monitoring in these regions.

A summary of all the temporary air quality monitoring sites that were active during the bushfire emergency, and their current status as of April 2020 is below, including the monitor types deployed at the various locations. Further location information is available for download from this spreadsheet (XLSX)

New South Wales region

Monitoring station details

Current status

Location

Date deployed

Monitor type

Mid-North Coast

Port Macquarie

27 July 2019

  • Rapid Response Pod
  • Retained and will continue to report data to the Air Quality Index Table
  • Negotiations continue with councils for a permanent location for a comprehensive air quality monitoring station on the Mid-North Coast.
 

Coffs Harbour

22 November 2019

  • Compliance monitoring station
  • DustTrak
  • Compliance station retained and continues to report data to the Air Quality Index Table.
  • Negotiations continue with councils for a permanent location for the station on the Mid-North Coast.
  • DustTrak decommissioned in March 2020
 

Taree

22 November 2019

  • DustTrak
  • Decommissioned in March 2020

Northern Rivers

Grafton

21 November 2019

  • DustTrak
 

Lismore

24 November 2019

  • Rapid Response Pod
    (only PM10 and PM2.5)

Snowy Mountains

Cooma

13 January 2020

  • DustTrak

South Coast

Ulladulla

7 December 2019

  • DustTrak
  • Decommissioned in April 2020
 

Batemans Bay

10 December 2019

  • DustTrak
  • Decommissioned in April 2020
 

Merimbula

12 January 2020

  • DustTrak

During 16–28 August 2019, we established a mobile air quality monitoring pod in East Lismore, at request of the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).  This was to monitor compromised air quality due to smoke emissions from a fire at the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre.

The mobile monitoring pod was located close to a residential area off Wyrallah Road in East Lismore. The pod measured visibility (NEPH), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and airborne particulate matter as PM10 (particles less than 10 µm in diameter) and PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5µm in diameter). In addition, meteorological parameters of wind speed, wind direction, temperature and humidity were monitored.

Monitoring ceased on EPA’s request when the facility fire was out and no longer compromising air quality.

The Katoomba air quality monitoring station, a research project station, was active during April 2019 to June 2020, as part of the Blue Mountains and Lithgow Air Watch Project. The temporary (12-month) project was led by NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and initiated by the local community to measure ambient air quality in the Blue Mountains and Lithgow.

The Katoomba air quality monitoring site was located on 20–22 Valley Road, about 1 km to the west of Katoomba. It was situated at an elevation of 1045.9 metres, some 200 m from NSW Rural Fire Service Bushfire Control Centre (33° 42' 37"S; 150° 17' 59"E).  The following air pollutants and meteorological variables were measured at this site: ozone (O3), oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2 and NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), fine particles as PM10 and PM2.5, visibility using nephelometry, wind speed, wind direction and sigma theta; ambient temperature, and relative humidity. Low cost air quality (KOALA) sensors were also included at this site, which was one of the multiple locations monitored as part of the Lithgow and Blue Mountains Air Watch Project.

Data from Katoomba air quality monitoring station were provided as hourly pollutant concentrations and an Air Quality Index (AQI). Detailed results from the Lithgow and Blue Mountains Air Watch Project are available on the EPA website.


During February – June 2019 we deployed 3 air quality monitoring stations to monitor effects on air quality due to an underground fire incident at Kooragang Island. The air pollution incident monitoring was conducted at the request of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Two monitoring stations (designed as emergency pods) were deployed in North and South Kooragang to record near-source emissions. To measure general community exposures, a third air quality monitoring station was installed at Warabrook, 1.4 km southwest of the incident site, at the boundary with Mayfield West.

All 3 stations measured carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and airborne particulate matter, PM10 (particles less than 10 µm in diameter) and PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5µm in diameter); hydrogen sulfide (H2S) was also monitored at the community station Warabrook.

Data was published online in near real-time for public access. Readings showed spikes at the onsite stations, coincident with winds from the incident site. There was no recorded exceedance for any of the measured parameters, compared against the Safe Work Australia’s standards for Short Term Exposure Limits. However, all stations recorded larger air pollution events i.e. dust storms and hazard reduction burns.

The emergency pods deployed in North and South Kooragang to record near-source emissions were decommissioned on 20 April, when FRNSW reported to OEH/EPA that the fire had been extinguished and the operation to contain the incident accomplished.

Warabrook remained active until 20 June 2019.

Station Type Coordinates
(latitude and longitude)
 Period deployed
North Kooragang On-site

32° 51' 53" S
51° 44' 5" E

21 February to 20 April 2019
South Kooragang On-site

32° 52' 14" S
151° 43' 49" E

21 February to 20 April 2019
Warabrook Community

32° 52' 45" S
151° 43' 11" E

18 March to 12 June 2019

The Liverpool South-west air quality station (SWAQS) was commissioned by the NSW Government, to support the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub on a research project into air quality in Western Sydney.  The station was located in a mixed residential and commercial area at Liverpool Girls High School, Forbes Street, Liverpool (latitude: 33° 55’ 8"S, longitude: 150° 55’ 57"E; elevation: 11.6 metres).

This special project was active during January 2019 to March 2020, and the following air pollutants and meteorological variables were monitored:

  • ozone (O3)
  • oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2 and NOx)
  • sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • visibility using nephelometry
  • fine particles as PM10
  • fine particles as PM2.5
  • wind speed, wind direction and sigma theta
  • ambient temperature
  • relative humidity

The Port Kembla site was active during January to June 2020, commissioned at the request of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). It provided incident monitoring capacity during the 6-month period when Blue Scope undertook pollution control shut down maintenance works.

The monitoring site was located at 112 Flagstaff Road Port Kembla, in a mixed use residential-commercial-industrial area, and some 100 m from the road (34o28’43” S; 150o52’43” E, at an elevation of 59 metres). It was co-located with an industry-commissioned monitoring station.

The following air pollutants and meteorological variables were measured at this site: ozone (O3), oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2 and NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), fine particles as PM10 and PM2.5, visibility using nephelometry, wind speed, wind direction and sigma theta; ambient temperature, and relative humidity.

Data from this special project site were provided as pollutant concentrations and Air Quality Index (AQI).