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Importance of air quality

Australians consistently rank air pollution as a major environmental concern. The state of our air is an important factor in the quality of life in Australian cities. It affects the health of the community and directly influences the sustainability of our lifestyles and production methods.

The Air Quality Section of the Department of the Environment and Heritage seeks to protect and improve urban air quality through national action to reduce emissions of major air pollutants. The Department’s focus is on those sectors that make the greatest contributions to adverse air quality as well as those pollutants that continue to pose threats to the environment and human health.

National action can relate to the implementation of relevant national standards and strategies and a common approach to monitoring air quality, research to inform air quality policy and community education on air quality issues.

National policies and programmes relate principally to the reduction of emissions from three sectors:

  • Transport: National initiatives aim to reduce the impact of road transport on environment quality, urban amenity and human health. People’s travel behaviour is also targeted, including promotion of bicycle use for short journeys.
  • Residential: Residential and dispersed sources of pollution, such as heating with wood, back yard burning and domestic appliances, are small but numerous, and as the National Pollutant Inventory shows, can be significant sources of air pollutants. Another emerging issue is indoor air quality.
  • Industry: Emissions from larger industries are reported under the National Pollutant Inventory and are subject to State/Territory control programmes.

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