23 Sep Concerns raised about Gladstone air quality
Gladstone has experienced four out of the five worst days for air pollution in the state so far this year according to data collected by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).
On March 26, the worst day so far this year, PM2.5 levels of 485.2 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) were recorded at Targinnie.
This is a rating of ‘extremely poor’ compared to ‘good’ level ratings of 25ug/m3.
The second worst hourly air quality peak in Queensland this year was also on March 26, but at Fisherman’s Landing, where PM2.5 levels of 346.3 ug/m3 were recorded.
Both the Targinnie and Fisherman’s Landing peak hourly readings were the result of smoke from hazard reduction burns.
DES has advised that although Gladstone is an industrial area, most PM2.5 emissions are from “elevated sources”.
“The dilution and dispersion effects in play before these emissions reach the ground,” DES said.
“This means that often the resulting ground level PM2.5 concentrations are within guidelines.”
Asthma Australia Medical Advisor and Respiratory Physician Dr John Blakey said if you care about what you drink, you should care about what you breathe.
“Australians know where to get decent coffee, or a good wine. They spend almost a billions a year on bottled water,” Dr Blakey said.
“Many people are choosy about the thousand litres they’ll drink each year, but probably don’t pay much attention to the mullions of litres of air they’ll breathe.
“If there were chemicals in tap water that caused disease, they would want to know about it.
“In contrast we know that the chemicals and particulates in the air can cause asthma, infections and cancer. We need to do more about that.”
Air quality measures look at levels of fine particles in the air known as PM2.5, particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less, and PM10, 10 micrometres or less.
There are nine air monitoring stations around Gladstone, measuring local industrial emissions and air movement.
These include stations at Aldoga, Clinton, Boyne Island, South Gladstone and Fisherman’s Landing, which monitor factors including nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde and visibility.
The Gladstone Region Air Quality Group works to educate and raise awareness around air quality and engage in citizen science by conducting gap analysis in data and knowledge.
The group has PurpleAir Monitors, which use laser particle counters to provide real-time measurement of PM1.0, PM2.5 and PM10, available for hire by community groups, schools or budding scientists.
For more information phone 0460 792 812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
View the Gladstone air monitoring stations’ current measurements at www.apps.des.qld.gov.au/air-quality/region/?region=gla.
Photo courtesy of PurpleAir