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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

11 October 2002

Ministers Probe Air Quality and Health Links


A national agreement to undertake new air quality research is an important step towards better addressing respiratory and other human health impacts of air pollution according to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.

At the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in Sydney today, Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers endorsed two high priority projects that will improve understanding of air pollution in our cities and the actions necessary to achieve a healthier urban environment.

Dr Kemp said the expansion of a large multi-city study on air quality and its effect on human health is important for the millions of Australians who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases.

The study, conducted through the Australian Research Council’s Strategic Partnerships with Industry – Research and Training (SPIRT) scheme, will allow inclusion of data on fine air-borne particles collected in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and more detailed analyses on the impacts of air pollution.

“Expansion of the SPIRT study not only provides us with a rare opportunity to build on high quality research, but it will allow us for the first time to explore the differences between Australia’s four largest cities,” Dr Kemp said.

“Air pollution is a major environmental and human health concern and through this study we will be able to better understand how health effects can vary from city to city, and even within cities. In turn, decision-makers will be better placed to decide how best to protect air quality.”

EPHC also agreed to release for public consultation a draft variation to the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (Air NEPM). The Air NEPM establishes national air quality standards in Australia for six major air pollutants, with the draft variation proposing advisory reporting standards, with monitoring and reporting requirements for PM2.5, which are fine particles associated with a range of adverse health impacts, such as increases in daily mortality, hospital admissions and asthma.

“A particular strength of the NEPM development process has been broad stakeholder consultation and I now ask the community to review this proposal and submit their views by 20 December 2002 to NEPC for consideration,” Dr Kemp said.

“Air pollution is among the nation’s highest environmental priorities. By working together to support measures such as these, we will not only improve the quality of the air we breathe in our cities, but also the quality of life for millions of Australians.”

Further information is available at: www.ephc.gov.au/nepms/air/air_issues_paper.html

Media contact:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp’s office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia