EDITORIAL: Clearing the air on dust


Summary

THE latest study of fine particulate air pollution in the Upper Hunter provides valuable information for residents and for the coal industry.
Nanjing Night Net

The long-held perception that coalmining must have been a dominant producer of the most harmful particulates – those of 2.5 microns in diameter or less – appears to have been well and truly scotched.

Wood smoke from domestic heaters has been clearly identified as the largest contributor, during winter months at least.

In warmer months, other pollutants such as power station emissions are dominant.

The study, in which the CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation analysed samples collected from Muswellbrook and Singleton during 2012, has revealed wood smoke is responsible for up to 62 per cent of very fine particle pollution in Muswellbrook and 38 per cent in Singleton during winter.

By comparison, industrial activity and vehicle movements contributed 23 per cent in Muswellbrook and 8 per cent in Singleton at the same time of year. Sulphate particles, mainly from power stations, contributed up to 6 per cent in Muswellbrook and 7 per cent in Singleton.

Soil dust, including that liberated into the air by coalmines, contributed 7 per cent and 13 per cent in Muswellbrook and Singleton, respectively.

Some may find the study hard to accept since, on its own reports to the National Pollutant Inventory, the coal industry puts more than 60,000 tonnes of fine dust particles – defined as being 10 microns in diameter (PM10) or smaller – into the Upper Hunter’s air every year.

The most likely explanation is that most of that soil material is larger than the 2.5 micron size (PM2.5) examined in this study.

While it is true that larger particles are more visible, and may well have deleterious effects on public health, international studies are clear that the smaller particles are the most harmful.

This is important information to have in the public sphere. For a start, it removes a cloud of suspicion from the region’s many mines.

It also provides Upper Hunter residents and community leaders with a clear course of action to decisively reduce their exposure to the most harmful form of particulate pollution in their environment.

Reducing reliance on wood-burning heaters, the study suggests, is an obvious step.

The study doesn’t imply that the larger PM10 particles are benign or should be ignored. But it goes a long way to clearing the valley’s mines of blame for the finest and most harmful particulates.


THE latest study of fine particulate air pollution in the Upper Hunter provides valuable information for residents and for the coal industry.
苏州美甲美睫培训

The long-held perception that coalmining must have been a dominant producer of the most harmful particulates – those of 2.5 microns in diameter or less – appears to have been well and truly scotched.

Wood smoke from domestic heaters has been clearly identified as the largest contributor, during winter months at least.

In warmer months, other pollutants such as power station emissions are dominant.

The study, in which the CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation analysed samples collected from Muswellbrook and Singleton during 2012, has revealed wood smoke is responsible for up to 62 per cent of very fine particle pollution in Muswellbrook and 38 per cent in Singleton during winter.

By comparison, industrial activity and vehicle movements contributed 23 per cent in Muswellbrook and 8 per cent in Singleton at the same time of year. Sulphate particles, mainly from power stations, contributed up to 6 per cent in Muswellbrook and 7 per cent in Singleton.

Soil dust, including that liberated into the air by coalmines, contributed 7 per cent and 13 per cent in Muswellbrook and Singleton, respectively.

Some may find the study hard to accept since, on its own reports to the National Pollutant Inventory, the coal industry puts more than 60,000 tonnes of fine dust particles – defined as being 10 microns in diameter (PM10) or smaller – into the Upper Hunter’s air every year.

The most likely explanation is that most of that soil material is larger than the 2.5 micron size (PM2.5) examined in this study.

While it is true that larger particles are more visible, and may well have deleterious effects on public health, international studies are clear that the smaller particles are the most harmful.

This is important information to have in the public sphere. For a start, it removes a cloud of suspicion from the region’s many mines.

It also provides Upper Hunter residents and community leaders with a clear course of action to decisively reduce their exposure to the most harmful form of particulate pollution in their environment.

Reducing reliance on wood-burning heaters, the study suggests, is an obvious step.

The study doesn’t imply that the larger PM10 particles are benign or should be ignored. But it goes a long way to clearing the valley’s mines of blame for the finest and most harmful particulates.