The NT Government has conducted particulate monitoring in the Darwin region since 2004.
In late 2010 monitoring was expanded to include a full ambient air quality monitoring station located near Palmerston. Another station was installed at Winnellie in mid-2012, and a third station was installed at Stokes Hill in May 2017.
In accordance with the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (AAQ NEPM) each station houses the following instruments for monitoring air pollutants:
- Dichotomous Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) particulate monitor to simultaneously measure particulates with aerodynamic equivalent diameters of 10 micrometres or less and 2.5 micrometres or less.
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) analyser
- Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx, NO and NO2) analyser
- Ozone (O3) analyser
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) analyser
All instruments used to measure the air pollutants comply with the Australian Standards stipulated in the AAQ NEPM. To assist in interpretation of the air quality data, meteorological data is also collected from instruments on the same site.
In general, the primary air pollutant in Darwin and Palmerston is particulates (PM2.5 and PM10) in smoke from distant and local vegetation burning during the Dry season.
Other air pollutants CO, NO2 and SO2 all occur at very low levels compared to large cities in other parts of Australia, while O3 occurs at moderate levels, typically due to natural processes.
The NT Air Quality Network website displays live and historical data from the three stations is available for public access.
This website also displays the Air Quality Index (AQI) calculated for each region where the stations are located. The AQI is a measure of how polluted the air is in that area (when compared against the relevant AAQ NEPM standard), and advises on which type of outdoor activities should be avoided during various pollution events.
Australia's Environment Ministers established a National Clean Air Agreement (NCAA) in 2015 to ensure a clean air future for Australia through the introduction of various national collaboration initiatives.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is contributing to the development of the NCAA initiatives.
Some of the initiatives are described below, and more information can be found on the NCAA website.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is contributing to the review of the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (AAQ NEPM) standards under an NCAA initiative.
This is in order to strengthen the standards to bring them in line with current international standards and the latest scientific evidence on health impacts of the air pollutants.
Non-road spark ignition engines and equipment (NRSIEE) which include outdoor power equipment and marine engines are significant contributors to air pollution in Australia.
New outdoor power equipment and marine engines are now regulated under the Commonwealth Product Emissions Standards Act 2017 with requirements set out in the Product Emissions Standards Rules 2017:
- From 1 July 2018, only products certified as meeting Australia's emissions standard, or have an exemption, are allowed into Australia. In addition, products manufactured in Australia must also meet the standards or have an exemption.
- Also, from 1 July 2020, only products certified as meeting Australia's emissions standard, or have an exemption, can be supplied in Australia.
Under the National Clean Air Agreement, jurisdictions are committed to adopt the new emissions standard (AS/NZS 4013:2014) and efficiency standard (AS/NZS 4012:2014) for wood heaters.
In line with the new standards to reduce emissions from new wood heaters:
- from 1 September 2019, all new solid fuel home heaters sold (locally or imported) must have at least 60% efficiency and an emissions limit of 1.5grams of PM10 emitted per kilogram of fuel burned.