Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Good summer air quality results for the Hunter

Media release: 26 May 2016

A rainy summer in the Hunter over the 2015-16 summer season has kept air quality in the region looking good in most locations according to the latest reports presented at the April meeting of the EPA’s Newcastle Community Consultative Committee on the Environment (NCCCE) and the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee (UHAQAC).

 The reports which capture air monitoring data from 1 December 2015 to 29 February 2016, show air quality in Newcastle and the Hunter region was considered generally good.

 Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) were below benchmark concentrations throughout the season.

  • PM2.5 levels were below the benchmark of 25 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) across the Upper Hunter during summer.
  • The Lower Hunter recorded one day with PM2.5 levels above the benchmark on 20 December 2015, during a large fire at Williamtown.
  • Stockton recorded the highest PM10 levels, with 27 days above the benchmark of 50 µg/m3, which was similar to previous summer seasons. In summer, Stockton particle levels are mainly influenced by sea salt spray from onshore winds.
  • Daily PM10 levels were above the benchmark on five days during summer 2015-2016 in the Upper Hunter.

 EPA Hunter Region Manager Adam Gilligan said the results reflected that the Hunter region experienced average to above average rainfall during summer 2015-2016, with a very wet January and a very dry February. Maximum temperatures were average to above average, while minimum temperatures were above average.

“The two Hunter committees receive quarterly updates on the air monitoring networks’ performance and the seasonal trends in air quality compared with previous years.

“The 2015/16 summer data shows daily PM10 levels went above the benchmark of 50 µg/m3 on five days in areas of the Upper Hunter, but levels at the major town centres of Singleton and Muswellbrook stayed below this benchmark.

The committee members represent the interests of the local community, local industries, local councils, NSW Health and the Department of Planning and Environment and were established to inform the government on the design and implementation of the industry-funded air quality monitoring networks operated by the Office of Environment and Heritage in Newcastle and Upper Hunter.

The 14 station Upper Hunter network has been up and running since February 2012. Three new stations in the Newcastle port area came online in August 2014, adding to the existing three-station Lower Hunter network already operated by the OEH.

The Newcastle and Lower Hunter air quality seasonal newsletters are available on the OEH at:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/newcastle-monitoring.htm

The Upper Hunter air quality seasonal newsletters are available:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/uhaqmnmonitoring.htm

To find out more about local air quality data and subscribe to Air Pollution Alerts visit: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/subscribe.htm

Contact: EPA Public Affairs Unit

Page last updated: 26 May 2016