Wind fans Upper Hunter dust levels

DUST  pollution in the Upper Hunter exceeded national standards in 2012, mainly due to dry conditions and strong winds, the environment authority says.

‘‘Air quality results were generally good at the major population centres of Singleton and Muswellbrook,’’ Environment Protection Authority chairman Barry Buffier said. 

‘‘But drier conditions and periods of strong winds in the second half of the year contributed to the higher air-particle readings.’’

An analysis of  data from the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring network shows the area’s dust pollution levels were  higher than those recorded at Beresfield, Newcastle and Wallsend, which were comparable to levels in Sydney and Wollongong.

The top daily average for levels of  particulate matter of 10 microns or less (PM10) peaked at Singleton with a reading of 63.6micrograms per cubic metre on September6. But the overall picture was less alarming.

The daily average for PM10s exceeded the national standard of 50micrograms per cubic metre on just seven days.

That was largely on account of the Singleton Central monitor – the only station in the network that did not meet the annual National Environment Protection Measure goal for PM10.

It recorded exceedances above 50 microns per cubic metre on six days, compared with the goal of five.

Muswellbrook Central was the only station where particulate matter levels of PM2.5 or less were above the national advisory  levels. There the daily level was surpassed twice over the year.

The Office of Environment and Heritage is reviewing how data collected from the air monitoring network is presented to the public.

‘‘It is important that people understand how we collect and collate our data – we want to see if there are any improvements we can make,’’ Mr Buffier said.

“These data will play an important role in helping to inform future research and health-based programs and to assess the effectiveness of dust-control programs designed to improve air quality.”  

For more information

RISKY: The dust settles at Ravensworth North mine. Regional pollution levels exceed national standards.

RISKY: The dust settles at Ravensworth North mine. Regional pollution levels exceed national standards.


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