Air Quality

Project 7: Air Quality in Australia

This project will 'nationalise' some of the learning from the Western Sydney air quality study, as a response to our recent user consultation. Western Sydney faces some particular problems regarding its air quality, a function of its rapid development and geography. Some of what we are learning about measuring, modelling and managing air quality is, however, transferable. This project will explore this extension, taking careful regard of what is truly generalizable from the Western Sydney experience and what is feasible within CAUL's resources. For this reason, the project has a low profile in 2018 and a duration listed of one year. During 2018 we will explore the value and feasibility of several national extensions of existing work in Western Sydney. If we judge these feasible and valuable, work will ramp up as the Western Sydney project winds down. It is also possible that other aspects of the Sydney study will be expanded. The following three aspects will be investigated:

  1. emissions sources and air quality, traffic, smoke and biogenic emissions
  2. indoor air quality.
  3. ambient air quality, noise and health


Hugh Forehead, UWA.


7.1 - Traffic and Air Quality. Improving the National Pollutant Inventory
7.2 - Role of pollution from fires and urban air quality in Australian cities
7.3 - Indoor Air Quality


Clare Murphy
Doreena Dominick
Elise-Andree Guerette
Graham Kettlewell
Terry Li
Travis Naylor
Alastair Williams
Scott Chambers
Alan Griffith
Pascal Perez
Steve Wilson
Anne Steinemann
Nigel Goodman
Guy Marks
Bin Jalaudin
Geoff Morgan
Christine Cowie
Peter Rayner
Jenny Fisher


7.1 - Traffic and Air Quality. Improving the National Pollutant Inventory.

Project Leader: Hugh Forehead, UOW

The national pollutant inventory (NPI) is the underlying data set which informs the impact of new emissions and the consequences for health and the environment. It includes point data on industrial emissions and data on diffuse sources like traffic. The modelling of these is patchy and outdated. This project will extend methods developed previously in P4.1 and P1.3 to improve this. Previous work in Melbourne and Sydney act as trial sites for this expansion but also as the standard against which the more broad-brush work here will be assessed.

Outcomes include a more nationally uniform assessment of the impact of traffic emissions on health and a tool for projecting the health impact of future traffic and population changes beyond Western Sydney. It will improve the baseline against which future environmental assessments are made and will be included in future versions of the NPI.

Paramatta, Western Sydney.

7.2 - Role of pollution from fires and urban air quality in Australian cities

Project Leader: Clare Murphy, UoW

Wood smoke is a major component of particulate pollution in Australian cities and towns. Its major sources are domestic wood heating, hazard-reduction burns and bushfires. Control of these

sources is contentious. Building on measurements and models from the Western Sydney study, we will build a more complete picture of the potentially toxic components of wood smoke to calculate the total health impacts. We will also explore tying measurements and modelling of wood smoke to the work on health outcomes generated in P1. This could lead to a framework for evaluating the health impact of policies on domestic wood heating and hazard-reduction burns. In this first year, we will concentrate on analysing existing data collected from Western Sydney and from Darwin (the Australian city with the worst levels of PM2.5 pollution).

Subproject 7.3 - Indoor Air Quality

Project Leader: Anne Steinemann, UoM

Laundry products emit a range of VOCs, including hazardous air pollutants (e.g., formaldehyde) that have been linked to health risks such as asthma. Little is known, however, about emissions of these products from dryer vents, and the effectiveness of strategies to reduce risks. The aims of this study are:

  • To analyse and quantify VOC emissions from residential clothes dryer vents.
  • To compare emissions from use of fragranced and fragrance-free laundry products.
  • To evaluate strategies to reduce hazardous VOC emissions and indoor air pollutants.

Banner image: Melbourne sky. Credit: HKMAA via flickr (CC0 1.0)