1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
   Page tools: Print Print Page


Particle concentrations - daily 24 hour PM10(a)
Graph Image for Particle concentrations - daily 24 hour PM10(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Each city contains several ozone monitoring stations. The data presented are an average of exceedance days across all ozone monitoring stations in each city. Melbourne averages only consider stations with data available for at least 74% of days in a given year.

Source(s): NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water Air quality; Qld Department of Environment and Resource Management Resource Centre; Victoria Environment Protection Authority Air quality.


The state of our air is an important factor in the quality of life in Australian cities. Poor air quality has health implications for humans, particularly those suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and can also affect plants and animals. The concentration of fine particles in the atmosphere is the form of air pollution about which many health experts in Australia are most concerned. Particles suspended in air have the ability to penetrate the lower airways of the lung if smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter (referred to as PM10).

Fine particles in the atmosphere result from both natural and human sources. Natural sources include bushfires, dust storms, pollens and sea spray. Human activities that create airborne particles include motor vehicle emissions, industrial processes and woodheater use. There is increasing evidence to suggest that acute health effects may be the result of exposure to very fine particles, such as those smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5). Most of these particles are generated by people, rather than occurring naturally.

Air pollutant levels are not considered to be high in urban Australia relative to other cities in the world. Severe bushfires and dust storms caused the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) for fine particle (PM10) concentrations in the air to be exceeded on 26 days in Sydney in 2002. In Melbourne, the number of days exceeded was 9 in 2003 and 11 in 2006.


  • Atmosphere glossary
  • Atmosphere references

    Previous Page | Next Page