Newcastle air-quality call heard

Newcastle lord mayor John Tate has called for an expansion of the city's air-monitoring network after increasing concerns about the quality of air.

It follows calls from researchers and community members for funding to investigate possible changes in pollution levels.

Cr Tate said increasing numbers of constituents had raised the issue in recent times.

"People will always raise things but when you get people who wouldn't normally raise something unless it was obvious to them you have to take notice," he said.

The Herald recently reported similar concerns around the city.

Air quality is monitored by several organisations.

Newcastle City Council monitors category 2.5 particulate matter at Mayfield and the Department of Environment and Heritage monitors at National Park, Newcastle, Wallsend and Beresfield.

Two other industry-controlled monitors are at Stockton and Steel River.

"I recognise the fact there is a need to monitor on a wider scale," Cr Tate said.

"We shouldn't be jumping to conclusions. Let's get the information so we know what we are dealing with and what we have to do," he said.

He said the council's air-pollution advisory panel, set up in the 1950s, could play a greater role.

University of Newcastle air quality specialist Howard Bridgman met Cr Tate yesterday to discuss the issue.

"Because we have a new state government there is a hold for a while in terms of actions until the government decides how it is going to handle lots of different policy areas and air quality is one of them," he said.