Major Air Pollutants

​​​​​​​​​​There are hundreds of pollutants that are mixed into the air we breathe. Some of the most important air pollutants are described in this section. 

The National Environment Protection Measure (Air NEPM) establishes national ambient air quality standards for six major air pollutants that affect local air quality and are indicative of general ambient air quality. 

The standards in the Air NEPM are designed to protect human health and wellbeing.

Particle Matter (PM10 and PM2.5)

High levels of particle pollution are experienced in many areas around Tasmania during the cooler months. EPA Tasmania has been monitoring particulate matter at over 30 sites in the state in a monitoring program known as BLANkET (Base-Line Air Network of EPA Tasmania). 

Ozone (O3)​

In the lower atmosphere ozo​ne is both a pollutant and a greenhouse gas. Monitoring for ozone is not conducted in Tasmania because the population size and climate mean that ozone in the lower atmosphere is not a problem.

Given that the vehicle fleet is relatively small and our summer temperatures remain fairly low, it is considered that ozone does not constitute a major problem in our cities. 

Ambient air sampling for ozone was conducted in Hobart between 1994 and 1995, covering a single summer period. Monitoring was conducted at Moonah, approximately 6 km to the north-west of the Hobart CBD. Measurements reported for the site revealed a maximum ozone concentration of approximately 30% of the NEPM one hour Standard.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

For information on carbon monoxide see the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.​

Monitoring for CO was conducted at the Prince of Wales monitoring station in Hobart, from 2001 to 2004, but was discontinued because the levels were very low.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

For information on nitrogen dioxide see the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Routine monitoring for NO2 is not conducted in Tasmania.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

For information on sulfur dioxide see the Aust​ralian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment​​​.

Sulfur dioxide reacts easily with other substances to form harmful compounds, such as sulfuric acid, sulfurous acid and sulfate particles. Routine monitoring for SO2 is not currently conducted in Tasmania as concentrations are very low. Monitoring for SOwas undertaken at the Hobart Port between 2017 and 2020.

Lead (Pb)

For information on lead see the fact sheet on the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

Lead is known to be harmful to human health and its use is restricted to products that are not used for food or drink. Monitoring for lead is not conducted in Tasmania or in most other jurisdictions, as its removal from petrol has made airborne levels extremely low, all around Australia.