Air toxics

Air toxics include benzene, dioxins, lead and other metals. Major sources of these toxics include motor vehicle exhaust and some commercial and industrial processes.

Knowledge of the health effects of air toxics is incomplete, but studies in Europe and North America show that very small amounts of air toxics may present a risk to human health and the environment.

Results of NSW Government monitoring indicate that levels of air toxics in the Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong areas are generally low in comparison to comparable cities in Europe and North America.

Information about air toxics

Ambient Air Quality Research Project (1996-2001)

With international concern turning to air toxics, which may be affecting human health and the environment through low level exposure over the long term, the NSW Government provided $1.4 million for an investigation into concentrations of these pollutants in the air in NSW.

The study ran for 5½ years from early 1996 to August 2001. It involved sampling and analysis of the level of air toxins in ambient air within the NSW Greater Metropolitan Region and a number of regional centres. Air toxins sampled included dioxins, 41 organic compounds, 11 Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and 12 heavy metals. In total, the concentrations of over 80 substances were measured, with more than 1400 samples collected at a total of 25 sites.

A summary report and four internal working papers are available on this research project.