NT EPA calls for community input into national air quality standards

The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) is calling for community input into proposed changes to key national air quality standards.

Environmental Operations director, Peter Vasel, said the standards under review are for ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

“Australia’s air quality has improved significantly over recent decades and is considered good by world standards,” Mr Vasel said.

“However, air pollution remains an important environmental and human health issue.

“Predictions for a drier, hotter climate, together with projected population increases, pose important challenges to Australia’s future air quality.”

EPA Victoria has been leading the review of national ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide standards.

“It is vital these are reviewed as we now know that the effects of air pollution on human health from these pollutants are observable at concentrations below the current National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure,” Mr Vasel said.

The National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) has signalled its intention to vary these standards to reflect the latest science on the health risks from these air pollutants. Health risks from exposure to these pollutants include effects on the respiratory and the cardiovascular system. Those most at risk of experiencing adverse effects are people with existing lung diseases (such as asthma), children and the elderly.

An Impact Statement prepared by the NEPC presents options for tighter AAQ NEPM monitoring and reporting standards for these pollutants and is now available for public consultation. The proposed standards for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide would become significantly stricter, while the AAQ NEPM would include a new, eight-hour ozone standard.

The Impact Statement has been developed in consultation with the Commonwealth Government and all states and territories. It is supported by a large body of work that pulls together air quality and health information, considers the feasibility of updating the standards, and the costs and benefits of a range of potential abatement measures that could be introduced to lower concentrations for these pollutants.

“The Impact Statement provides an opportunity for all interested Territorians to review the evidence supporting the options for varying the AAQ NEPM standards and to give their views on the proposed strengthened standards,” Mr Vasel said.

While the AAQ NEPM itself does not compel or direct pollution control measures, it does provide strong guidelines on air quality standards for each jurisdiction.

Source: Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA)