Sydney’s air pollution prompted NSW Health to issue warning

By world standards, Australia has very clean air. Strategies developed to manage air pollution have contributed to reducing the levels of pollutants in our air. However, levels of some pollutants, including ground-level ozone and particulate matter, can still exceed current air quality standards. In addition, population growth, urbanization and increasing demands for transportation and energy consumption are ongoing challenges which impact our air quality. On 15 December 2015 Australia’s Environment Ministers established the National Clean Air Agreement. The Agreement seeks to ensure that the community continues to enjoy clean air and address the impacts on human health and the environment. It feature good targets – even better than the World Health Organization recommendations for PM2.5. However, without stricter measures to reduce vehicle emissions, these air quality targets will not be achieved.

And especially ground level ozone is a pollutant what is not easy to get under control. An January 11, 2017 the New South Wales Health has issued a warning for people with respiratory conditions as a toxic gas lingers in Sydney. It reads “A combination of hot, still weather and pollution is being blamed for an excess of harmful ozone in the city’s western suburbs”. “Ozone levels are higher outdoors than indoors, so parents should limit the time their children with asthma play outside as they are more susceptible to the effects of ozone pollution”. “Ozone levels reach their peak around 7pm in the evening and tend to be lowest in the morning, so it’s best to plan outdoor play in the morning when the day is cooler.”

Ozone is a colorless, but pungent gas that is a respiratory hazard and can damage the lungs, and cause chest pain, coughing and throat irritation when inhaled. The gas is formed when nitrogen oxides from things like car exhausts and air conditioner fumes react with oxygen in the air on hot days (for more information to ozone please read: Dr. Ben Scalley, director of NSW Helath’s Environmental Health Branch warned “It’s important that people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, follow their action plan and use their relieving medication if necessary”.

Voice become more and more heard who call for more major public health campaigns to change people’s beliefs about what they can do to reduce air pollution and stronger fuel efficiency standards and in general stronger policy aimed at curbing air pollution. Many governments around the world especially in Europe (with exception of the UK)  banned diesel vehicles without proper emission class to enter urban areas. This so called “low emission zones” are an EU initiative against traffic-related air pollution and the permission to enter a low emission zone depends on the emission class of your vehicle which is clearly marked with a sticker on your windshield. Australia, by contrast, lags behind the rest of the world on policies to reduce air pollution. For example, Australia’s rules on sulfur in fuels – a particularly damaging component of vehicle emissions. Australia has one of the world’s most lenient sulfur standards for petrol, allowing 150 parts per million. That’s 15 times the limit allowed in the European Union, Japan and the US. It’s three times what’s allowed in Brazil and China (China will allow just 10 parts per million from 2018). Australian fuel quality and emissions standards are “appalling”, of the 35 countries in the OECD, Australian’s petrol quality is ranked last, below Mexico, Turkey and Estonia.

But don’t wait for your government, don’t wait that new standards are in place or fines issued for breaking environmental regulation. Every single one can make small adjustments to his life style. You know that idling your car is in many countries around the world and offense what can be fined as high as 5000$? When you let next time your engine run while you wait on somebody think about it. If you plan to buy a new vehicle go for an environmental friendly car, ok?


4 replies
  1. envatted_truth
    envatted_truth says:

    If emissions are a problem, how about cleaning up the fuel and adopt the European standard? But no, air quality is not that bad in Australia to take some restrictions. We need to wait couple years when the situation will be worse, and only than we will think on how to reduce air pollution.

  2. Albert M
    Albert M says:

    Great idea is to switch to electric cars. You can even turn on the airconditioner or heater if necessary, no tailpipe emissions. And it is cheaper to run than fossil fuel cars.

  3. J Garner
    J Garner says:

    Electric car is not an answer until it can go only about 140 km without charging. Those which can, is not affordable for most people. But maybe the fact that more and more towns and cities already are putting bans on diesel cars or daily charges on them entering city centres, will finally put an end to diesel.


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