Air quality


Theme: Sustainable
Dimension: Protect, repair and manage the environment


Annual average exposure to outdoor air pollution of PM2.5 (particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less)

Why does this matter

Clean air is critical to a healthy population. There is a strong body of evidence that long term exposure to PM2.5, even at low concentrations, can cause a range of adverse health effects including cardiovascular and respiratory disease, reduced lung function, cancer, and reduced life expectancy.1

Has there been progress

There are geographical limitations on measuring air quality so it is challenging to draw broad conclusions. 31 of the 35 monitoring stations for which data was available for both 2017-18 and 2021-22 improved.2 Air quality was negatively impacted by the Black Summer bushfires which caused a spike in PM2.5 particles in 2019-20.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Natural environment and health, Australia's health 2022, AIHW website, accessed 28 June 2023.

2 The data is sourced from jurisdictional monitoring undertaken in compliance with the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure. The NEPM includes technical, performance and location requirements that must be met by monitoring stations. Data is made public annually in National Environment Protection Council annual reports, however currently only data up until the 2018-19 period is publicly available. The subsequent data sets are unpublished and have been sourced directly.

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