Pressures affecting ambient air quality

Component
Summary
Grade
Very high impact High impact Low impact Very low impact
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

Increasing population (with concomitant increases in emissions from vehicles, equipment, heating, etc) and increasing urban density place pressure on air quality

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Urban sprawl is moving populations closer to existing industries, including intensive agriculture, wastewater treatment facilities and hobby farms, leading to greater exposure to air pollution (especially odours and wood smoke)

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

The development or expansion of these industries in rural or near-rural settings can adversely affect air quality. Both amenity and health impacts exist

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Topics

Point-source pollution is mostly mitigated by regulations, but there are some legacy issues with old industries

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Topics

Local and airshed-wide impacts on health and aesthetics; localised effects on amenity and health near some major point sources

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Topics

Increasing vehicle traffic and greater congestion is a pressure unless counterbalanced by reduced emissions per vehicle. Non-tailpipe emissions such as tyre and brake dust are continuing to increase

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Metro-wide direct and indirect impacts of volatile organic compounds, NOx, ozone and particulates; localised impacts near ‘hot spots’ such as heavily trafficked roads in residential areas

Year(s): 
2011
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Smoke from domestic wood heaters is a major source of air pollution in many regions during cooler months

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Commercial and other domestic

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Name changed since 2011

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Most commercial emissions are regulated by local authorities. Emissions from two-stroke engines used in the gardening and marine sector are unregulated, and are high polluters relative to their engine size and use. They therefore put pressure on urban air quality

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Somewhat adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Local and airshed-wide impacts on health and aesthetics

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Prescribed burning and bushfires

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Name changed since 2011 to include bushfires

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Smoke from planned burns (and, occasionally, bushfires) is a sporadic, major source of air pollution in regional and urban areas

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Widespread evidence of generally localised effects on amenity and health

Year(s): 
2011
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

The lack of national emissions and fuel standards for this equipment (e.g. earth-moving, commercial shipping, rail transport) means that the contribution of these sources is uncertain and potentially significant in some locations

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Somewhat adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Title changed

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall increases the pressure from wind-blown dust and bushfire smoke. Higher temperatures increase chemical reaction rates leading to, for example, higher ozone levels

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Higher temperatures will be associated with increased photochemical smog (ozone pollution events), and with an increase in serious particulate pollution events due to more frequent bushfires and dust storms. Both outcomes can be expected to adversely affect health

Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed
Keywood MD, Emmerson KM, Hibberd MF (2016). Ambient air quality: Pressures affecting ambient air quality . In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary/ambient-air-quality/pressures-affecting-ambient-air-quality, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65c70bc372