Clearing the air: why Australia urgently needs effective national air pollution laws

Upper Hunter air quality could be significantly improved if national air pollution legislation was adopted, a new report says. Cleaning the air: Why Australia urgently needs effective national air pollution laws identifies the Hunter Valley as one of several heavily polluted air sheds where residents are exposed to a high particulate pollution burden. It estimates coal mining contributes 87.6 per cent of the region's particulate pollution less than 10 microns (PM10) and 66 per cent of particulate pollution less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). The national PM10 standard was exceeded 115 times during 2012 and 171 times in 2013. PM10 exacerbates chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and can trigger asthma serious enough to require hospital admissions, the report says. Air pollution alerts have been issued to Hunter Valley residents 29 times so far in 2014. The report, produced by Environmental Justice Australia, recommends the creation of an air pollution prevention act and a national air pollution regulator.