Air quality monitoring in Bendigo has not been ruled out as the Environmental Protection Authority considers ways to enhance its practices to better cover regional Victoria.
The last time the EPA monitored air pollution in Bendigo was from May 2004 to July 2005.
During that time the standards for PM10 – a type of pollutant associated with sea salt, pollen, dust or emissions from motor vehicles and industrial processes – was exceeded three times. Visibility was a problem on one day because of wind-blown dust.
In March a Victorian Auditor General’s report showed the EPA did not provide air quality for most of the state, despite a 2001 plan to cover Bendigo and other regional cities.
The EPA wants to improve its understanding of conditions across the state to help it make future decisions protecting human health and the environment, chief scientist Andrea Hinwood said.
“In addition, EPA wants to equip all Victorians with the tools to actively respond to air conditions which affect human health and proactively make lifestyle changes to reduce air pollution,” she said.
It comes as the Victorian government considers a strategy to manage air quality through to 2030. That strategy is expected to be released next year.
Monday’s report summarises current knowledge about air quality, sources, trends and impacts in Victoria and will be used to inform future actions.
It has found statewide air quality has improved significantly across Victoria in recent decades and is considered good by international standards.
However, air quality remains a significant environmental and health issue in the face of concerns about a drier, hotter climate and population increases, the EPA says.
According to the report, air pollution is coming from a range of natural and man-made sources.
Vehicles are among sources for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and PM2.5 – which is similar to PM10 matter but smaller.
Other pollutants are being created from chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
In 2017, there was a significant increase in the number of days PM2.5 exceeded air quality standards, which the EPA blamed mostly on “urban sources” such as wood fire heaters. Levels of PM10 have declined since 2009.
The EPA said based on monitoring from 2004 and 2005 Bendigo’s air was generally similar to, or better than, regions like Melbourne, Geelong and the La Trobe, where data is currently tracked.
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