This statement summarises the data collected from the NSW Air Quality Monitoring Network during 2022. It describes air quality conditions at stations in metropolitan and regional centres as well as stations near industrial activities. Data are reported against national standards. See Defining the network for more information.
New South Wales experienced good air quality overall in 2022, with improvements compared to 2021, primarily due to cool and continuing wet weather.
Key findings of the analysis
- Pollutant levels were within national standards 100% of the time in many NSW regions during 2022. These include all the Sydney regions and the Illawarra, Central Coast, Lower Hunter, Upper Hunter population centres and Southern Tablelands.
- The Lake Macquarie, Northern Tablelands, North West Slopes, Mid North Coast, Central Tablelands and Riverina-Murray regions recorded air pollutant levels within the national standards between 97.0% and 99.7% of the time. Levels at the remaining industry-funded Newcastle local network were within standards 90% of the time, with the exceedances due to sea salt at Stockton raising PM10 levels.
- Annual average particle pollution levels generally decreased in 2022, compared to 2021.
- PM10 annual averages were within the national standards at all stations with available annual average data in 2022, except Stockton, the same as in 2021.
- PM2.5 annual averages were within the national standards at all stations with available annual average data in 2022, where Stockton was above the standard in 2021.
- Annual average PM10 levels in 2022 were the lowest recorded at most NSW metropolitan and regional population centres since records began at each station. Many stations recorded annual average levels of PM10 less than half of the standard.
- There were fewer days at metropolitan and regional centres with pollutants exceeding standards recorded in 2022 than in 2021, excluding Stockton. The network recorded a total of 18 days in 2022 with one or more criteria pollutant levels over national standards, compared with 33 days in 2021. Sea salt at Stockton added an additional 36 days over the national standards in 2022.
- Particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) were the primary cause of days with pollutants exceeding national standards in 2022.
- There were 2 days with PM10 levels over the standard at metropolitan and regional centres, excluding Stockton, compared to 18 days in 2021.
- There were 16 days with PM2.5 levels over the standard, compared to 23 days in 2021.
- Improved particle levels resulted from the continuing wet weather primarily limiting dust, bushfires and hazard reduction burns.
- Levels of ozone and carbon monoxide remained within national standards.
- There was one day with hourly sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels over the national standard, recorded at Morisset in Lake Macquarie.
- There was one day with hourly nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels over the national standard at Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast.
- There was one exceedance of the NO2 annual benchmark at the special projects Bradfield Highway roadside monitoring station (north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, adjacent to one of the state's busiest roads).
- There were no extreme pollution days in 2022, defined as days where any pollutant levels exceed twice the national standard. In comparison, there were 2 extreme days for PM10 and 9 days for PM2.5 in 2021.
The 2022 Statement presents 3 focus areas:
- two sections examining air quality at monitoring stations nearby industrial activities in the Hunter Valley and at Stockton in the Port of Newcastle.
- a section highlighting the NSW Government's recent achievements implementing the NSW Clean Air Strategy 2021–2030.