Monitoring and regulating air pollution

Outdoor (ambient) air pollution has an impact on people’s health. Reducing air pollution means healthier people and a healthier environment.

The ACT has excellent air quality against global and national standards. 

The ACT Government has monitored air quality in Canberra for almost 40 years. The ACT Health Directorate is responsible for three monitoring stations—in Monash, Florey and Civic.

We measure the level of pollution at these stations and compare it to national and territory air quality standards.

Here you can find more information about air quality in the ACT, including:

Improving air quality in the ACT

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is established under the Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act) and is responsible for administration of the Act. The Act aims to ensure that air quality in the ACT meets national standards by minimising environmental harm from local emissions of air pollutants, while still permitting necessary or socially acceptable activities to take place.

The EPA is also responsible for annual reporting under the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (AAQ NEPM), which provides air quality standards for the most common air pollutants.

The ACT Government has also worked to reduce particulate emissions from wood heaters used for home heating. Initiatives include the regulation of firewood merchants, the ‘Wood Heater Replacement Program’ to remove old inefficient wood heaters and the annual ‘Burn Right Tonight’ public awareness campaign on the correct use of wood heaters to reduce pollution.

Prescribed burns

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service also conducts several 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 (smoke) pollution, pollen and temperature. Users can report their symptoms of asthma, allergies and hay fever. Over time, the app analyses these data and will start to 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.

Key features of AirRater

  • Keep track of your hay fever and asthma symptoms in one place
  • Check the air quality at any location
  • Set up 'saved' locations so you can quickly view what's happening in areas you visit frequently
  • See the location of bushfires
  • See how your symptoms correlate with environmental conditions

How does it work?

AirRater gathers the symptoms you’ve entered into the app and matches these with the environmental conditions at the time, building a picture of your potential environmental triggers. How quickly this occurs depends on how many symptoms you enter and whether your symptoms are seasonal or all year round.

Advanced statistical modelling is used to determine this correlation, using a technique called weighted linear discriminant analysis. Each of your symptom reports is used to train the model with a suite of potential environmental triggers you were experiencing at the time, including temperature, pollen and smoke concentration. Times when you did not enter symptoms are also included in the model to provide the background environment experienced.

If the model establishes a good correlation between these triggers and your symptoms, AirRater begins to send you a notification when those environmental conditions are high in your current location or any of your saved locations. This can give you time to get prepared and manage your health. The more symptom reports you enter, the better trained the statistical model will be and the more accurately it will be able to determine your triggers.

When you have entered enough symptom reports, AirRater will build a picture of how your symptoms relate to the environmental conditions where you have been. AirRater features a 'Trigger Lab' that helps you explore the relationship between your symptoms and the environment. You can use this information in consultation with your health professional to work out your specific symptom triggers.

AirRater app image
Other air quality projects

ACT Health is working to reduce people’s exposure to harmful levels of pollution. 

Additional information on this work can be found in the reports below:

Pollen allergy

Pollen from grasses, weeds or trees is a common trigger for allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever and asthma symptoms in Australia. If you are allergic to pollen, minimising your exposure will help keep you well when pollen counts are at their highest.

More information, including how you can prepare yourself for pollen season is available on our Pollen Allergy page.

Page last updated on: 10 Dec 2019