Monitoring and regulating air pollution

Outdoor (ambient) air pollution has an impact on people’s health. Reducing air pollution means healthier people and a healthier environment.

The ACT has excellent air quality against global and national standards. 

The ACT Government has monitored air quality in Canberra for almost 40 years. The ACT Health Directorate is responsible for three monitoring stations—in Monash, Florey and Civic.

We measure the level of pollution at these stations and compare it to national and territory air quality standards.

Here you can find more information about air quality in the ACT, including:

Improving air quality in the ACT

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is established under the Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act) and is responsible for administration of the Act. The Act aims to ensure that air quality in the ACT meets national standards by minimising environmental harm from local emissions of air pollutants, while still permitting necessary or socially acceptable activities to take place.

The EPA is also responsible for annual reporting under the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (AAQ NEPM), which provides air quality standards for the most common air pollutants.

The ACT Government has also worked to reduce particulate emissions from wood heaters used for home heating. Initiatives include the regulation of firewood merchants, the ‘Wood Heater Replacement Program’ to remove old inefficient wood heaters and the annual ‘Burn Right Tonight’ public awareness campaign on the correct use of wood heaters to reduce pollution.

AirRater app

AirRater is a free app providing up-to-date, location specific information on PM2.5 particulate pollution, pollen and temperature.  

Key features of AirRater:

  • Keep track of your hay fever and asthma symptoms in one place
  • Check the air quality, as measured by PM2.5 levels, at any location
  • Set up 'saved' locations so you can quickly view what's happening in areas you visit frequently
  • See how your symptoms correlate with environmental conditions

How does it work?

PM2.5

PM2.5 refers to particulate matter in the air that is less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter or smaller. The amount of PM2.5 in the air is the best indicator of how much smoke is in the air. Note that AirRater does not provide health advice; it provides hourly data on PM25. air pollution.
 
In the ACT, AirRater receives PM2.5 measurement data from our three air monitoring stations, Florey, Civic and Monash. AirRater uses these data alongside statistical modelling techniques to determine likely PM2.5 concentrations across all areas of the ACT. Because of this and depending on your location, the hourly data presented in AirRater may not exactly match the hourly data presented at ACT Health monitoring stations.

Pollen

In the ACT, AirRater receives pollen measurement data from the Australian National University. It combines both tree and grass pollen. As there is only one point of reference for Canberra, the pollen count on AirRater is reported as the same for all locations across Canberra.

Symptom tracker

AirRater gathers the symptoms you’ve entered into the app and matches these with the environmental conditions at the time, building a picture of your potential environmental triggers. How quickly this occurs depends on how many symptoms you enter and whether your symptoms are seasonal or all year round. The more symptoms you report when you have them, the better trained the app will become to your personal triggers.
 
AirRater can also send you notifications when environmental conditions are likely to trigger symptoms. This can give you time to get prepared and manage your health.
 
AirRater features a 'Trigger Lab' that helps you explore the relationship between your symptoms and the environment. You can use this information in consultation with your health professional to work out your specific symptom triggers.

Prescribed burns

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service also conducts several prescribed burns throughout the year to prepare for the fire season. You can find out more about prescribed burns, view Bushfire Operations Plans for the ACT or see frequently asked questions.

For updates on prescribed burns follow Parks on Twitter @ACT_Parks, like them on Facebook @ACTParks phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81, subscribe to receive email updates or subscribe to the RSS Feed

Other air quality projects

ACT Health is working to reduce people’s exposure to harmful levels of pollution. 

Additional information on this work can be found in the reports below:

Pollen allergy

Pollen from grasses, weeds or trees is a common trigger for allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever and asthma symptoms in Australia. If you are allergic to pollen, minimising your exposure will help keep you well when pollen counts are at their highest.

More information, including how you can prepare yourself for pollen season is available on our Pollen Allergy page.

Page last updated on: 8 Jan 2020