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Australia News & Information



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These pages summarise (and provide sources for) important information about the health hazards of one of the major sources of health-hazardous PM2.5 fine particle pollution - wood heating. 
 
Another section provides more comprehensive research information into all sources of air pollution and non-polluting environmentally alternatives such as solar heating.

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 Visit Clean Air Tas

Contact Clive Stott at:   http://www.cleanairtas.com



Australian Air Quality Links by State and Territory:

Tasmania

Victoria

New South Wales

South Australia

Western Australia

Queensland

Northern Territory

Australian Capital Territory


Senate Standing Committees

Community Affairs

2013 - Inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia

 

SUBMISSIONS received by the Committee

RECOMMENDATIONSCommittee’s report, 16 August 2013.


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Victorians breathe easier after smoke study

Researchers are hoping a study on smoke generated by Victoria's prescribed burning program will influence future public health policies.


Submission - Reducing Emissions from Wood heaters

http://www.scew.gov.au/strategic-priorities/clean-air-plan/woodheaters/index.html

Submissions closed on Monday 15 July 2013.

The Standing Council on Environment and Water has released the submissions received under the

consultation Regulation Impact Statement for reducing emissions from wood heaters.

The submissions can be accessed at http://www.scew.gov.au/node/957



"Burn Brighter this Winter"
Under the first phase of the Domestic Smoke Management Program, officers from the EPA Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment in Tasmania are collaborating with local councils to reduce domestic wood smoke in two focus areas in Launceston and Hobart.
The Burn Brighter Project is focussed on ways to improve domestic wood heater use in specific areas. Persistent poor air quality from a neighbouring house is not something that has to be tolerated.
Smoke from a poorly operated wood heater can be reduced by as much as 80 percent by following a few simple steps.
Go here to read about this initiative.


Greens to apply heat over ACT's wood fires
Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/greens-to-apply-heat-over-acts-wood-fires-20120601-1zni6.html#ixzz1wZBPsscl


NPI Emissions Estimation Technique Manual for Aggregated Emissions from Prescribed Burning and Wildfires in Australia


Latest Developments in the Investigation of Smoke Derived Taint in Grapes and Wine

Where significant smoke exposure occurs during sensitive periods of vine development the resultant wine is consequently unfit for purpose.

Click here to read the article


Emissions from domestic wood-fired heaters in southern Tasmania's Huon Valley dwarf emissions from forest regeneration burns, according to a new CSIRO study.


 

We have always been led to believe that Cape Grim on the N/W tip of Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world.


Cape Grim location - courtesy Google Maps

The Cape Grim baseline air pollution station was established in 1976 to monitor and study global atmospheric composition. You can read about it here: http://www.bom.gov.au/inside/cgbaps/

 

One of the core scientific programs conducted at Cape Grim is PARTICULATES, i.e., PM10 and PM2.5.

Particulates get a mention here http://www.bom.gov.au/inside/cgbaps/programs.shtml

If, "Pollution threatens environmental sustainability and can have harmful effects on human health." then why has the PM2.5 baseline air monitor at Cape Grim been out of action since it stopped operating in December 2008?

 

Smoke consists primarily of fine particle matter (PM2.5).

It is widely reported that this size particle can travel deep into the lungs and stay there. These particulates can have gaseous toxins attached to them and they can cross over into the blood stream.

 

It is interesting to note the PM2.5 air monitoring at Cape Grim went out of action at much the same time in 2008 as Tasmanians were subjected to horrendous quantities of pernicious forestry smoke.

 

This is confirmed by the website http://www.cleanairtas.com which commenced in 2008 and you can read about smoke related problems at that time at http://www.cleanairtas.com/about.htm and, http://cleanairtas.com/couldyou.htm

The smoke has persisted ever since and the PM2.5 air monitor has not been reporting.

 

On top of this we have had smoke coming from the mainland into the measuring segment in Tasmania. Cape Grim has not recorded it.

 

We should not be claiming Tasmania's N/W tip has the cleanest air in the world when PM2.5 data has not been gathered from the Cape Grim monitoring station for almost three years. Grim isn't it?

 


Cape Grim Particulates - courtesy CSIRO.

 

Smoke Screen Outwards

Forestry Tasmania admits they got it wrong last year and are now using their own failings to extend the length of their selfish planned burn smoke season this year.

 FT apologises for smoke – ABC 24/4/2010

Obviously Forestry Tas. knows nothing about the harmful effects of the smoke they pump into our airsheds across Tasmania or into the lungs of Tasmanian people. Either that or it seems they just don’t care about the environment, the animals or fellow mankind.

Smoke management means stopping the smoke at the source.

Lower levels of smoke, for a longer period of time, are just as harmful as higher levels of smoke for a shorter period of time. We have had both now after suffering about 50 years of deliberate and unnecessary FT burning.

“We almost got it completely right last year” means Forestry Tas. got it completely wrong again!

Instead of Bob Gordon attempting to give FT an underserved pat on the back for past deliberate air exceedances, I am inviting him to have a look at http://cleanairtas.com/issmoke.htm. Here he can read about some of the harmful effects associated with THEIR pernicious wood smoke.

No amount of spin will reduce the harmful effects of this smoke.

Forestry Tas might as well be saying, “Here are a 100 cigarettes – don’t smoke them all at once.

And while councils are bringing in no smoking laws at bus shelters and in malls because of the known harmful effects of smoke, we find out that in 2008 it is estimated FT released into our airsheds (from their heavy-fuel burns alone) the equivalent amount of particles that would be released from  6.45 trillion to 9.15 trillion cigarettes.

Go here to see a pie chart that shows the amount of particles released into the Tasmanian airshed from these regeneration burns compared to all other sources of pollution.

Well done Forestry Tas. I feel you are making a laughing stock out of our primary Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act (supposedly administered by the EPA). I believe you are not exempt from this Act and nor should you be.

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/news/2011/02/changes-to-our-regeneration-burning-program

Clive Stott

cleanair@cleanairtas.com

 

Ambient Air - PM Standards for Australia

PM10: 50ug/m3 averaged over a 24 hour period, with 5 exceedences per year.

PM2.5: Advisory level only. 25ug/m3 averaged over a 24 hour period and 8ug/m3 for 1 year.

Gravimetric method must be used otherwise readings are only indicative.

 

Australian Air Quality Standards Are Up For Review:

 

2010

The National Environment Protection Council has released a discussion paper on Air Quality Standards for the Ambient Air Quality NEPM. Submissions closed on August 27, 2010

You can go to the link below to read the: Review of the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure - Discussion Paper - Air Quality Standards - July 2010

http://www.ephc.gov.au/sites/default/fi ... 201007.pdf

A direct link is also provided below for the Standards Setting Paper:
An Australian approach to setting air quality standards: Consultation draft - November 2009

http://www.ephc.gov.au/sites/default/fi ... 091123.pdf

 

2011

The AAQ NEPM review report was accepted and released by the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) in September 2011.

NEPC noted that the review’s recommendations will be prioritised and responded to through the development of the National Plan for Clean Air.

The new National Plan for Clean Air will provide a robust framework for identifying cost effective emission reduction actions, and implementation arrangements.

Along with the report, the Methodology for Setting Air Quality Standards in Australia (the methodology) was released. The methodology addresses:

· the level of health protection to be built into standards

· the application of uncertainty or safety factors

· approaches to dealing with non-threshold pollutants

· approaches to exposure assessment

· equity and social justice issues

· application and approaches to cost–benefit analysis.

If you would like further information on the review of the AAQ NEPM or the methodology, please visit http://www.ephc.gov.au/.

AAQ NEPM review report  634Mb

Air Quality Standard Setting Methodology   1.31Mb

Senate Question No. 1854, 18th May 2012,

Senator Milne asked the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, What is the timeframe and expected delivery date for the National Plan for Clean Air.

Senator Conroy, the Minister with the  above portfolios answered as follows: The National Plan for Clean Air has to be submitted to the Council of Australian Governments by the end of 2014.

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Depending in which of the six states or two territories you live smoke can come from different sources, or affect people in different concentrations because of local topography.

Deliberate planned burn smoke might be the major problem in some states, while wood heater smoke might be the major concern in another, or you could have a combination of both. Bushfire smoke can sometimes be a concern in the dryer months.

Tasmania

Tasmania is the smallest and most southern island state of Australia. It has the highest rate of asthma in Australia, and the highest rate of non-skin cancer in Australia which does not surprise most people that live on the island and are subjected to the toxins attached to wood smoke.

Much federal and state money is being spent on asthma patients, new linear accelerators, cancer clinics, bigger hospitals, and more staff, when it would be easier on everyone to stop our deliberate, state-wide pernicious smoke at the source.

The Asthma Foundation would rather refer smoke victims to doctors and specialists to be put on drugs, than lobby on behalf of their members to halt forestry smoke at the source

Tasmania is particularly troubled by smoke from the forest industries. Although wood heater smoke is no less a source of pollution it gets a lot of publicity because domestic heating is easier for governments to control than the large powerful forest industries. But heater smoke must be put into perspective with the largest polluters as can be seen from the pictures below.

 

A planned burn is lit on a bright blue day…

 

and the sun is blotted out mid afternoon.

Pie charts (below) were released in Dec. 2009 from the most recent 2008 figures. These show the relative quantities of particle pollution from different sources.

The full article can be found here

“Regeneration burns” is a misnomer, it should read “forestry residue burns”

No regulatory control over forestry burns:

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Tasmania has no regulatory control over forestry planned burns. They are however, required to administer the EMPCA and stop smoke exceedences, but the justice department has advised a successful prosecution will not occur. If this is the case Tasmanian laws obviously need changing.

The Tasmanian Environmental Health Department has no regulatory control over planned burns and their smoke.

The Forest Practices Authority (FPA) on the other hand, controls these big burns. The EPA has handed over it’s authority to the FPA for them to conduct their own smoke complaints handling process.

The FPA, with a green light from the EPA, has conducted a Coordinated Smoke Management Strategy (CSMS) trial over the last three years which has been a failure with the population being exposed to very dangerous levels of smoke during its period of operation.

The aim of the CSMS trial is to maximize the amount of smoke released into an airshed, so that forestry can keep burning its waste from forestry operations.

“Horse trading” between CSMS members is allowed as part of the strategy to see who gets to pump maximum smoke into the air that people need to breathe each day.

See below:

Visibility is down to 2 Km or less.
This level of smoke is deemed to be extremely dangerous.

And there is more than one source:

Not all of the smoke comes from Tasmania. It is disgusting that burns are allowed to take place in this small state at all, but it is especially bad when there are already raised levels of smoke coming in from planned burns and wild fires on the mainland.

This smoke travels on prevailing N/W winds across the short stretch of water between the two islands. See below –

 

At present there is no escape and no federal or state desire to prevent all this wood smoke from shortening the lives of every Tasmanian.

Further details can be found at http://www.cleanairtas.com