WHERE there’s smoke, there’s air pollution, and in Armidale it will be closely monitored with a new program launching next year.
The remote monitoring program will provide real-time information and be used to guide a 10-year plan to improve air quality.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the town was chosen because of its location in a valley, combined with low winds that trap wood smoke.
“It’s about trying to get an even better picture of air quality in Armidale, to provide more accurate data publicly to inform government decisions in the future,” he said.
Long-term exposure to particulate matter [air pollution] decreases lung function and increases the risk of developing heart and lung disease.
Smoke from wood heaters is similar to tobacco smoke, both give off similar compounds when burning.
Particulate matter, especially PM2.5 are the most concerning – as they can be lodged in the lungs.
The maximum allowable level of particulate matter is 25 micrograms per cubic metre.
From June 19 to July 3, Armidale air quality exceeded the advisory level eight times, and reached a high of 45 micrograms.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the monitoring program wasn’t about banning wood systems.
“It’s about getting the most accurate data we can,” he said.
Depending on the results of the data, initiatives may be created to entice residents to move to newer systems.
“You can’t make those policy decisions without good quality data,” Mr Marshall said.
The Armidale site will be established in March 2018.