Coal Particle Study at Stockton

This study to quantify the coal particle component of airborne particulate matter at Stockton was undertaken as a supplementary study to the Lower Hunter Particle Characterisation Study.

When: Sampling was conducted in winter 2015

Where: Stockton Air Quality Monitoring Station

Aims: to determine an upper limit on the amount of coal particles in airborne particulate matter, by selecting for analysis sample days when the meteorology was conducive to coal particles being generated and transported to the Stockton air quality monitoring station from coal operations on Kooragang Island and adjacent areas at the Port of Newcastle.

Findings: This supplementary study provided information on the upper limit of the amount of coal particles in the particulate matter in areas downwind of Newcastle coal operations, further refining estimates made by the Lower Hunter Particle Characterisation Study.

An important concern for the Newcastle community is about how much coal particles contribute to air particle pollution.

The Lower Hunter Particle Characterisation Study identified the composition and sources of fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM2.5-10) air particles in the Lower Hunter. This study delivered a range of evidence to inform air policies and programs, but did not specifically identify coal particles, but rather inferred the upper limit of coal particles in particulate matter based on the quantity of elemental and light-absorbing carbon identified.

This coal particle study was commissioned by the OEH as a supplementary study to the Lower Hunter Particle Characterisation Study to investigate how much coal is in airborne particulate matter measured at Stockton Air Quality Monitoring. The study was conducted by CSIRO and involved the use of a new imaging technique called Coal Grain Analysis. This technique distinguished coal particles from other particles in the samples and provided information on particle size from about 1–50 micrometres (μm).

More information on the study approach and findings is given in the study report.  A summary report (PDF 500KB) is also available for the study.