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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

16 April 2004

State of the Air report: Australia's air quality improving

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today released State of the Air, the first comprehensive picture of Australia's urban air quality.

"State of the Air is a landmark report that examines the six most common air pollutants — pollutants that contribute to cardio-vascular disease and respiratory conditions such as asthma in our cities and towns, " Dr Kemp said.

"It's Australia's first air pollution report which looks at all major cities using nationally consistent scientific methods.

"The good news is that between 1991-2001, air quality has improved for four of the six damaging pollutants: lead, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Capital cities are now reporting levels well below the national standards for these key pollutants.

"However, I'm concerned to see that ozone and particle levels have remained relatively high and that in 2001 the ozone and particle levels were higher than national air standards in some cities on at least one day. This partly reflects the impact of increasing numbers of cars and trucks and distances travelled on our city roads.

"Overall, our air quality is improving because of effective national regulations such as the phasing-out of leaded petrol, new fuel quality standards, national controls on motor vehicle emissions, as well as initiatives under the $18 million Air Pollution in Major Cities program, funded through the Natural Heritage Trust. Advances in industry and vehicle technologies have helped clean up our air too."

State of the Air looks at data from 79 sites across the country, and assesses 2001 data against air quality standards that the Australian Government established in 1998 with State and Territory governments. The standards are amongst the most stringent in the world.

"By presenting statistics for the first time in a nationally consistent way, State of the Air provides a benchmark for air quality reporting," Dr Kemp said.

"The report will assist all governments to develop sound strategies to combat air pollution, and will be particularly valuable to researchers and the scientific community.

"Although States and Territories have the major constitutional responsibility for air pollution, the Australian Government will continue to target major sources of air pollution — motor vehicle exhausts and wood heaters — through community education initiatives such as the Travel Behaviour Change and tighter fuel standards. I am also working with State and Territory Ministers to gather the information needed to develop a new set of national standards for another group of air pollutants, the air toxics, which are also damaging to health."

Full copies of the State of the Air: National Ambient Air Quality Status and Trends Report 1991-2001and the community summary State of the Air can be found at

A PDF of the community summary State of the Air is also available for download. (community-summary.pdf - 524 KB)

Fact Sheet — State of the Air Report

Commonwealth of Australia