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Tasmania's Air Quality Information Updates On-line

30 July 2008
Tasmanians wanting up-to-date information on air quality can find it on the internet. Indicative air quality readings are available the day after they are collected from three air quality monitoring stations in Tasmania - Hobart, Launceston and Rowella in the Tamar Valley. This includes particulate data for the previous day, the most recent week and the most recent month from each of these stations. The data is downloaded in the early hours of each day. The information is processed and graphs are automatically generated and posted on the website just after 9am. The graphs show data for each site and give an indication of particulate matter - which includes smoke and occasionally dust raised in windy conditions. Director of the EPA Warren Jones says it is important to note that the raw results are only indicative because they are invalidated. "These raw results cannot be used to demonstrate if an exceedance of air quality standards has occurred. Validated information takes more time to verify and check," he said. "However, these indicative results provide a quick, ready reference for Tasmanians who want to know how air quality is trending." Click here to view the information. The current standard for air monitoring is PM10 and this measures particulates up to 10 millionths of a metre in size. The 24 hour PM10 National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) standard is 50 micrograms per cubic metre. "The NEPM goal is to have no more than five exceedances of the standard in a year. Last year was the first since regular monitoring began a decade ago, that Launceston met the PM10 goal with a total of five exceedances. No exceedances were recorded in Hobart in 2007," Mr Jones said. "The Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy's primary focus is the achievement of National Environment Protection goals for air quality, especially those related to the fine particulate pollution that impacts on many of our urban populated centres in winter." "While we have made great improvements over the past decade, our monitoring suggests that we still need to do better." "We have been measuring fine particles (known as PM2.5) for several years now. While there is not yet a national standard for PM2.5 there is a "reporting standard" that provides an indication of whether there may be an issue with the levels of fine particles. Last year there were 20 exceedances of this reporting standard in Launceston and seven in Hobart, which suggests that the levels of fine particles in both cities are too high." Mr Jones said. "Launceston has a history of winter airborne particle pollution, largely due to smoke from the burning of wood in domestic heaters." Tasmanians are reminded that several measures are in place to address this problem including the wood heater replacement program and new regulations to control the import, sale and manufacture of wood heaters, and which make emission of excessive smoke from wood heaters an offence.