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Smoke Measurement Surveys

General information

Smoke measurement surveys have been conducted by EPA Tasmania to provide spatial information on smoke in towns and communities. Survey work commenced in 2009 using some of the same equipment as was deployed in the (then) newly installed BLANkET stations. Over subsequent years both the survey equipment and techniques have been refined.

Sine 2011 there has been an extensive program of smoke survey measurements, typically conducted on cold, calm nights, in a number of Tasmanian towns and communities. The purpose is to collect data on particulate concentration from smoke from domestic woodheaters. These data provide a 'snapshot' of the smoke distribution in a town, and also will help in the determination of population particle–exposure. ​

An EPA Tasmania-designed car–based smoke–measurement instrument (Travel BLANkET) is used to map the spatial distribution of smoke. The system is based on a DRX DustTrak, calibrated as for the BLANkET units, installed in a box with a heated inlet, battery, and local router. Ambient air is sampled via a ∼1 metre teflon tube that extends outside the car. A USB GPS unit allows the measurements to be geo–located. A thermistor and ultrasonic wind sensor also are mounted on the outside of the car, giving ambient temperature and an estimate of wind speed and direction relative to the vehicle. Ambient wind speed and direction are determined by vector subtraction of the car motion. A laptop is used to read these instruments and log data. One data point is collected each 5 seconds on a survey. The data are displayed in Google Earth in real–time on the laptop. For more background and technical information about Travel BLANkET refer to the BLANkET Technical Report available here. Descriptions of specific surveys can also be found in other BLANkET Technical Reports.

    Notes on the survey data:

  • The PM2.5 data are taken with a DRX DustTrak, as used in the BLANkET stations, that has been calibrated by EPA Tasmania specifically for woodsmoke;
  • The individual PM2.5 concentrations (as shown at the highest zoom level) are for the date and time of the measurement ONLY and do not indicate an average over time;
  • Surveys are typically conducted during the early to late evening, sometimes extending to early morning, on cold, calm nights, and hence represent peak smoke levels rather than day-averages;
  • Smoke from given chimney can be transported some distance and still remain at high concentration. Hence the presence of a high-concentation PM2.5​ measurement adjacent to a particular property does not necessarily mean that the property was the source of the smoke;
  • The national air quality standards for PM2.5 are an annual standard of 8 micrograms/m3 and a 24-hour standard of 25 micrograms/m3. There is no shorter-term health-based standard. The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services uses a 1-hour health-advisory level of 25 micrograms/m3 as a cautionary level for sensitive people. The smoke survey measurements are effectively an instantaneous PM2.5 value, and currently cannot be related to a health-based standard. 

1/ Smoke survey data via the LISTMap portal.

PM2.5 data from the annual winter surveys are available on the Tasmania Government LISTMap site for the years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017​.​ Zoom in to the area of interest to see the full resolution of the measurements. Clicking on an individual data point shows details of the measurement.

2/ Alternative view: 'Aggregated' smoke survey data via a webmap

(This option may be easier to use if you are using a smart phone or tablet rather than a PC.)

PM2.5 data from the winter surveys are also available in a web map format for: 2017 (Launceston only)​, 2017 (excluding Launceston), 2016,​ 2015, 2014, 2013​​, ​2012,​ 2011 (all surveys),​ 2011 (Deloraine only).​

Due to the large number of measurements generated in a survey, the data on the webmaps are displayed as 'aggregated' points. (i.e. A number of data points are collected, or aggregated, into the one displayed value.) As you zoom in to more detailed views the number of points aggregated into a single symbol decreases, as the aggregation is based on a spatial scaling.

Please note that larger circles represents larger numbers of (aggregated) survey points, NOT higher concentration of PM2.5. The PM​2.5​ concentrations are represented by colour only. In general, zoom in to see individual survey points. However, if the vehicle was stationary for some time these data are likely to still appear aggregated, even at the highest zoom levels.


Woodheater and open fireplace use in Tasmania - 2011

In 2011 EPA Tasmania commissioned a home-heating telephone survey to provide information on woodheater and open fire use in Tasmania. Raster maps of woodheater and open fireplace were produced and are available via Tasmanian goverment LISTMap portal.


Air Specialist
134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 4599 Fax: 03 6173 0254
Email: Enquiries@epa.tas.gov.au