Every Breath Counts

The United Nations in its Earth Charter states that the global community must “Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.” This right to clean air is a concept that most Australians would take for granted and not give much thought to. However, for certain pockets of community, such as in the Hunter Valley, air quality is a hotly debated topic.

The Hunter Valley has one of the highest concentrations of coal mining and coal burning in close proximity to population centres and farmland in Australia. Of these mines, 16% of the Upper Hunter Valley mines are open-cut. As a result of this concentration of mines, concerns exist that they have had a cumulative impact on the level of air quality within the region. Of particular concern are the long-term health effects which may ensue such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Given the long history of coal mining within the area, concerns regarding air quality have existed for some time and several studies have already been conducted into this. One such study has been conducted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)’s NSW Air Emissions Inventory which assessed the air for 850 different pollutants. The study found that dust emissions containing particles (PM10) had increased in the Hunter from 40,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes or 50% between 2003 and 2008 (http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/air/120404AEIbrochure.pdf ). However, over this same period, industrial pollution in other areas, including Sydney declined.

Air Quality Monitoring

This has prompted the EPA, to conduct ongoing studies into air quality in the area. One of the most recent initiatives to be launched is the Newcastle Air Quality Monitoring Network with stations located at Mayfield, Stockton and Carrington. These stations monitor close to real time data on PM10 and PM2.5 dust concentrations. While the EPA has been congratulated on the move by community and health groups, they argue that the right monitoring system serves little purpose if nothing is done in response to the results gained. Thus, they will continue to urge the EPA to respond in concrete ways to ensure that a high degree of air quality is maintained in the region.

The Hunter Valley is an extreme example of a community’s quest for clean air. However, there are many other, sometimes less obvious, causes of air pollution which can be no less harmful to human health such as dust, mould, chemicals or general pollutants.  A.D. Envirotech offers air quality monitoring services to ensure that the area is free of contaminants, providing you with peace of mind. Moreover, when contaminant concentration levels exceed the recommended minimum, remedial actions plans can be developed to suit your particular needs.


A.D. Envirotech Australia Pty Ltd – Head Office
Unit 6/7 Millennium Ct.,
Silverwater, NSW, 2128, Australia
(02) 8541 7214

A.D. Envirotech Australia Pty Ltd – Laboratory
4/10-11 Millennium Ct
Silverwater, NSW, 2128, Australia
(02) 9648 6669


A. D. Envirotech Australia Pty Ltd (ADE)
PO Box 288
Upper Coomera LPO,
QLD, 4209 Australia
(07) 5519 4610

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