Pollution spikes during bushfires

Pollution spikes during bushfires

10 April 2010

published by www.gladstoneobserver.com.au

Australia —     Measuring air quality can be a complex procedure. Nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particles PM 10 and 2.5 can be difficult to track and hard to monitor.

Principle scientist of Environmental Services in Gladstone Dave Love, from the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), said Gladstone is very different to other areas in that it has a lot of big stationary sources.

“In cities, most pollutants come from traffic, so it makes a difference in the types of pollutants we are dealing with, and in meteorological conditions where you can find issues, Mr Love said.

“It does make it easier in terms of managing it because you have got just a couple of big sources rather than trying to deal with thousands of cars and urban planning that goes along with it.”

QAL, Rio Tinto and NRG have all been accused of releasing pollutants into the air, however Mr Love says in terms of air quality, the main thing that monitoring is turning up is that the worse air quality occurs when there are bushfires.

“All the events where the air quality guidelines were exceeded were during bushfire events and the big dust storm we had,” Mr Love said.

That data is in the air quality bulletins on the website and each month the bulletin comes out when any air quality goals are exceeded and a commentary is published around what happened.

Mr Love said industry has welcomed the initiative, with most willing to adhere to recommendations.

“Industry has a big stake in the community and on the whole they have been cooperative with DERM,” Mr Love said.

“When it comes to industry obviously there are lots of big chimneys around emitting various compounds and all industry is implementing pollution controls, like NRG who basically trap most of the pollutants before they enter the atmosphere.

“Our monitoring has not shown any significant issue with industry.”

The final human health risk assessment, based on a full 12 months of expanded air monitoring program data, will be completed over the next couple of months. The release of the final report will be advertised closer to the date.

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