How to monitor Air Quality

Poor air quality has a significant impact on people living with asthma, and can worsen the symptoms of asthma.

Poor air quality means there are substances in the air which could be harmful for people or the environment. Common pollutants include:

  • Ozone
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)

Poor air quality can be hard to avoid. Children, older people, pregnant women and those with pre-existing health conditions like asthma, or respiratory and cardiac conditions are most at risk of negative health impacts.

Poor air quality can arise from a variety of sources such as bushfire, hazard reduction burning, woodfire heaters, transport and industry processes.

Common air pollutants are measured by difference services in each State and Territory. See the links below for air quality information in your area.

State/Territory PM2.5/PM10 Site
NSW Rolling 24 hour average https://www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/air-quality
QLD Rolling 24 hour average https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/air-quality/
VIC Hourly updates https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/EPAAirWatch
TAS Hourly updates https://epa.tas.gov.au/epa/air/monitoring-air-pollution/real-time-air-quality-data-for-tasmania
ACT Rolling 24 hour average https://www.health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/population-health/environmental-monitoring/monitoring-and-regulating-air
SA Hourly updates https://www.epa.sa.gov.au/data_and_publications/air_quality_monitoring
NT Rolling 24 hour average http://ntepa.webhop.net/NTEPA/Default.ltr.aspx
WA Rolling 24 hour average https://www.der.wa.gov.au/your-environment/air/air-quality-index

There are also apps available for download including AirRater.

What do the air quality ratings mean?

Air quality is a measure of how clean or polluted the air is. Below is an example of an air quality index. Indexes may differ between states and territories.

What measures can you take?

It is advisable to stay indoors with doors and windows shut when the air quality is poor or worse. If possible, air conditioners are recommended to be in use on the recycled air setting. Alternatively, reprieve can be found in buildings with air con, such as shopping centres and cinemas.

Portable air cleaners can be effective to provide refuge from hazardous air quality inside homes. They are only useful for use in isolated places and not a safeguard covering the whole house. Air cleaners are different to purifiers or filters but do use HEPA filters to filter the harmful particulates from the air.

Face masks (P2/n95) can help filter particles when air quality is poor. However, they must be fitted correctly and maintain an airtight seal to be effective. For example, they will not be effective if you have a beard as air will leak around the sides.

In hazardous conditions all exercise and outdoor activities should be cancelled.