Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Good autumn air quality results for the Hunter

Media release: 17 August 2016

Overall air quality was generally good in the Upper Hunter and Newcastle areas in autumn although there were spikes in some areas as a result of hazard reduction burns, according to the latest air quality reports from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

EPA Acting Manager, Hunter Region, Karen Marler said the results reflect the region’s record warm and dry autumn.

“Local weather conditions, such as onshore winds can play a big role in influencing our air quality results because they can blow salt and other particles inland,” Ms Marler said.  

“Collating this data and providing it to local community and industry on a quarterly basis allows us to keep the community informed of local trends and conditions and ensures we’re continuing to target resources to address the key areas of concern.

“The results for autumn were generally good by national standards but there is always more work we can do to reduce pollution and particles in the air. The EPA continues to work with industry and the community to improve air quality across the Hunter region.”

The reports were presented at the July meetings of the EPA’s Newcastle Community Consultative Committee on the Environment and the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee., Air monitoring data from March to May 2016 showed that even with the bushfire events, overall air quality in Newcastle and the Hunter region was generally good by national standards.

Results for Newcastle

In Newcastle, levels of PM2.5 particles, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ammonia in the air were all below benchmark concentrations throughout the season.

Newcastle recorded more days overall over the PM10 benchmark compared to previous autumn periods. This may have been influenced by the warmer than average autumn temperatures, lower than average rainfall and hazard reduction burns in early May that impacted on local results.

Stockton recorded 21 days in the quarter with PM10 levels above the daily benchmark of 50 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3). The highest daily levels at Stockton were the result of sea salt spray from onshore winds. Other influences included particles from hazard reduction burns and other fires in the region, combined with emissions from local industries.

A copy of the Newcastle report in full is available on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website

Results for Upper Hunter

Levels of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide in the air were below benchmark concentrations throughout autumn in the Upper Hunter region.

Singleton recorded two days with daily average PM2.5 levels above the 25 μg/m3 benchmark, recording averages of 25.5 and 27.7 μg/m3 on 7 and 8 May 2016.

There were three bushfires burning in the region over this period, two approximately 40 kilometres southwest of Broke and a small private hazard reduction burn, five kilometres southeast of Singleton, which, combined with the light south to south-east winds, may have impacted on the local results.

The Upper Hunter recorded three daily average levels for PM10 above the 50 μg/m3 benchmark on 2 April, 6 April and 24 May 2016. Mount Thorley and Singleton each recorded higher levels on 24 May and 6 April respectively while Camberwell recorded levels over the benchmark on all three days. On these days there were large hazard reduction burns and fires in or near the region that most likely influenced local air quality.

Daily average PM10 levels were below the benchmark throughout autumn 2016 at Muswellbrook and Aberdeen.

A copy of the Upper Hunter report in full is available on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website.

The Newcastle and Hunter air quality monitoring networks: The Office of Environment and Heritage operates six air quality monitoring stations in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter and 14 across the Upper Hunter region. The network is designed to provide real time information about local air quality. The information is published in 1 hour and 24 hour intervals on the OEH website and local residents can also sign up to receive SMS alerts about their local air quality. More information is available on the OEH website.

PM10: particles less than or equal to 10 micrometres in diameter.

PM2.5: particles less than or equal to 2.5 micrometres in diameter.



Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 17 August 2016