Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) monitoring occurs in the ACT to support the National Environment Protection Measures (NEPM) and the Air Quality Index (AQI). These tools help communicate the AAQ to the ACT community.

The Health Protection Service (HPS) within ACT Health operates the Territory’s air quality monitoring network, which comprises of two NEPM Performance Monitoring Stations PMS) in Monash and Florey, and a smaller station in Civic.

ACT Health monitors carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), photochemical oxidants as ozone (O3), particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) and particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5).

PM10 and PM2.5 are the pollutants of most concern in the ACT. Elevated levels of particulate matter can rise, for example, in colder months due to wood smoke emitted from the use of wood heaters. They may also occur from bushfire and burn-off events in and around the ACT.

Emissions from motor vehicles are the primary source of carbon monoxide and oxide of nitrogen pollution in the ACT.

Photochemical oxidants, such as ozone, are generally not emitted. They are formed by the reaction of pollutants in the atmosphere. Ozone is formed when nitrogen oxides react with a group of air pollutants known as Reactive Organic Compounds (ROC) in the presence of sunlight.

Due to a lack of heavy industry, the ACT has not monitored sulfur dioxide for the NEPM. The ACT ceased monitoring lead in July 2002 following the phase out of leaded fuel on 1 January 2002, with ambient air lead levels being less than 2% of the standard.

The EPA Inspectorate is responsible for providing the ACT Ambient Air Quality NEPM annual report to the National Environment Protection Council Act 1994.

You can view national air quality standards and further information on pollutants and health risks through the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Prescribed burns

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service also conducts a number of prescribed burns throughout the year to prepare for the fire season. You can find out more about prescribed burns, view Bushfire Operations Plans for the ACT or see frequently asked questions.

For updates on prescribed burns follow Parks on Twitter @ACT_Parks, like them on Facebook @ACTParks phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81, subscribe to receive email updates or subscribe to the RSS Feed.

AirRater app

Air quality data is also used in the AirRater smartphone app. AirRater is a free app providing up-to-date, location specific information on particulate pollution, pollen and temperature. Users can report their daily symptoms of asthma, allergies and hay fever. Over time, the app will provide personal feedback on what triggers users' symptoms, whether that be smoke, grass pollen or cold weather. This helps vulnerable Canberrans to better understand their triggers, manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Data collection and processing

AAQ data is measured through instruments and collected by data loggers that poll each instrument every 5 seconds. Data is averaged hourly and is automatically recovered from stations during the day.

The ACT Government Analytical Laboratory measures and collects the air quality data. The data is uploaded every hour to Data ACT and to the ACT Health website.

Further Air Quality Projects

ACT Health is undertaking further projects to increase our knowledge of particulate pollution in Canberra, with a view to develop strategies to reduce people’s exposure to harmful levels of pollution.

Please see the reports below:

Page last updated on: 7 May 2019