Air pollution can contain a mix of solid particles, liquid droplets and gases from a variety of sources including heavy industry, such as manufacturing and fossil fuel combustion, motor vehicles and heating appliances.
Air pollution can also be created by natural events such as bush fires, and can contain windblown dust, pollen and mould spores.
Air pollution can vary greatly depending on the season, weather and the types and numbers of sources.
Pollutants we monitor
In keeping with legislative requirements, ACT Health monitors five air pollutants:
- carbon monoxide (CO)
- nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- photochemical oxidants such as ozone (O3)
- particulate matter less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10)
- particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5).
Particle pollutants (PM10 and PM2.5) are the pollutants of most concern to people’s health in the ACT. The major contributors to these pollutants are smoke from wood heaters and bushfires, vehicle emissions and windblown dust.
Emissions from motor vehicles are our primary source of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution.
Photochemical oxidants, such as ozone, are generally not directly emitted from a source. Ozone is produced when nitrogen oxides react with a group of air pollutants known as Reactive Organic Compounds (ROC) in the presence of sunlight.
Pollutants we do not monitor
Due to a lack of heavy industry, the ACT does not monitor sulphur dioxide.
The ACT also stopped monitoring lead in July 2002 following the phase out of leaded fuel on 1 January 2002.